The Hateful Eight

February, 2016, Drama

Almost from the beginning of his highly documented career, writer/director Quentin Tarantino has enjoyed remarkably consistent commercial success combined with cult status as an especially astute chronicler of contemporary American culture. In just seven films spanning the decade from 1992 to 2002, his work (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained) has examined the black exploitation and kung-fu movie genres along with crime melodramas and historical meditations on Nazism and racial bigotry in the ante-bellum South. The director’s films always bear his unmistakable flair as one of the few American directors that can be legitimately called a true auteur.

Because of his widely reported accusations of script theft, Tarantino threatened to abort this project, which sent his fans into paroxysms of frustration at the thought of missing another chapter in his oeuvre. Well, Hateful 8 has finally made its way to the big screen and nobody should be terribly impressed.

Employing a cast composed largely of his favorite actors, (Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, et al) and drenched in his penchant for bloody gore, Hateful can best be described as a shaggy-dog re-make of Agatha Christie’s1945 thriller And ThenThere Were None. Cinematographer Robert Richardson has garnered an Oscar nomination for his camera work here, cleverly blending evocative exteriors of the American west circa 1870 with ingeniously crafted interior shots of the film’s principal set, an authentically rustic stage coach stable and inn.

The plot is simplicity itself; a bounty hunter sheparding a notorious female outlaw to jail and execution is forced to wait out a blizzard in the confines of a stage coach way station in the Wyoming mountains. Among those also stranded are an assortment of suspicious lawmen, other bounty hunters and a retired Confederate general, long in his dotage. Fearing that some of these clearly suspicious fellow travelers might be after his potential reward, the bounty hunter confronts each of them in turn. Soon violence begins, death ensues and nearly 2 and ½ hours of screen time elapse before various storylines are resolved in Tarantino’s typically nihilistic style.

Whether you’ll be entertained by this exercise depends on whether you like your plots drenched in viscera and an incessantly repeated 4-letter word that rhymes with duck. One thing you won’t be burdened with is anything of substance.  Tarantino’s capacity to write evocative dialogue and provide imaginative points of view with his camera are much in evidence here, but in the end, what you get is far less interesting than it should be.

The Verdict? Perfect entertainment for a late night, two-keg frat party.  

Jake's Takes comments powered by Disqus