Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Zoe Bell, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir, Dana Gourrier, James Parks, Channing Tatum
Runtime: 3 hrs 2 mins
Rating: R21 (Sexual Scene & Violence)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: http://thehatefuleight.com
Opening Day: 21 January 2016
Synopsis: In "The Hateful Eight", set six or eight or twelve years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Leigh), race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as 'The Hangman,' will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road, they encounter two strangers: Major Marquis Warren (Jackson), a black former union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix (Goggins), a southern renegade who claims to be the town's new Sheriff. Losing their lead on the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie's Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie's, they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. Bob (Bichir), who's taking care of Minnie's while she's visiting her mother, is holed up with Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), the hangman of Red Rock, cow-puncher Joe Gage (Madsen), and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our eight travelers come to learn they may not make it to Red Rock after all...
For Tarantino fans, "The Hateful Eight" has “Directed by Quentin Tarantino” stamped all over. Ensemble cast – checked. Arguably gratuitous violence, blood and gore – definitely. Pays homage to other genres – yes, western and mystery in this case. The result? Pretty good, actually, interesting enough to avoid being overly draggy for three hours. Until the blood gets a little too much near the end, anyway.
Set after the Civil War in the snowy landscape of Wyoming, the film brings together eight hateful characters. John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) was hurling Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) into Red Rock to be hanged. On their way, they pick up Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a Civil War veteran turned bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), the supposed new Sheriff of Red Rock. The group was then forced to take shelter midway at Daisy’s Haberdashery due to a blizzard, where they meet four men who might not be who they seem.
True to its name, the film’s main eight characters were well and truly hateful, unworthy of any sympathy from the audience. While he might not be the most evil, Warren’s shrewdness and resourcefulness does make him stand out. In fact, he did elicit sympathy from the audience until, well, his sadistic side was put to show in all its glory. Despite so, however, Warren was arguably the most honest and loyal person in the incorrigible bunch. Warren and Mannix’s terse relationship was also a delight to observe, as the characters take jabs at each other before falling into an uneasy alliance that was gradually cemented. Their relationship was a breath of fresh air, or as fresh as being stuck in a musty wooden hut can be, in the film where everybody just wanted each other dead.
Despite the high quality performances from the cast, the portrayal of the flawed and baser instincts of human beings was, to the reviewer, the true attraction of the film. Tarantino’s refusal to shy away from the violence led to the full display of the evil nature of Man without any qualms, in the way the men saw fit to murder and humiliate one another. This brings to mind the question – how far must one be pushed before survival instincts overwhelm morality, and for people to treat another with total disregard?
But I digress.
Another much publicised aspect of the film was its release in 70mm, and it being shot in 65mm. The wider screen did make the snowy and barren Wyoming (actually Colorado) landscape look fabulous, but only for the whole of maybe… ten minutes. Could not help that there was a blizzard and most of the story had to be in a really small room. Moreover, it is likely that the intricacies and benefits of the film format stand out to the average cinema-goer, which this reviewer admits to be.
It was a different story, however, for the music in the film, which it playing a big role in the Hateful Eight instead of being a mere afterthought. The western-inspired score, composed by Tarantino’s long time collaborator, Ennio Morricone, was impactful and measured, providing either an ironic twist to the action on screen, or further deepening the tension in between characters. This, too, was another highlight of the film.
Although the film’s run time exceeded three hours, it captured the audience’s attention for most part, from the tension between the stage coach passengers, the constant circling of adversaries and the unpredictability of who would be the last person standing. The audience was kept at the edge of their seats despite the relatively slow pace of the first two chapters. Perhaps it is just me, but it wouldn’t hurt to cut down on the blood, though.
(A gripping tale of what happens when you put murderers who should not be in a room together. Although it was not hard to predict the ending, the process does not disappoint)
Review by Goh Yan Hui