THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Review by Susan Granger
Known for his penchant for approaching racism in America with profanity-laced, gratuitous hyper-violence, Quentin Tarantino delivers in this “molasses-like” story about a bounty hunter trying to transport a killer to justice. Set several years after the U.S. Civil War, it begins with a stagecoach hurtling through wintry Wyoming – until it’s stopped by Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a former Union officer-turned-bounty hunter who’s hauling three dead bodies to Red Rock to collect the reward. Read on…
Inside the stagecoach is bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) with his feisty, feral fugitive, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), also headed for Red Rock. Joining them later is Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a former Confederate renegade who introduces himself as Red Rock’s new Sheriff.
As a ferocious blizzard approaches, the passengers seek shelter in a rustic, remote, mountainside log cabin called Minnie’s Haberdashery. Already inside are Bob (Damian Bichir), the Mexican who’s temporarily minding Minnie’s stopover; Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), a fashionable British hangman; surly Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern); and taciturn cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen).
Problem is: they don’t trust one another – for good reason. As an African-American, Maj. Warren is so accustomed to being questioned that he carries with him a handwritten letter from President Abraham Lincoln.
With “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Inglorious Basterds” and “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino has established himself as a perversely idiosyncratic filmmaker, so it’s not surprising that he immerses himself in a revisionist glimpse of the aftermath of the racial hostility between the North and the South.
In this cold, isolated setting, Tarantino’s sluggish, rambling, dialogue-driven scenes are punctuated by gruesome carnage. Despicable duplicity is revealed and the vile agitators are killed one-after-another, like a cartoonish Agatha Christie “And Then There Were None” mystery.
With Channing Tatum and Zoe Bell in supporting roles, this retribution saga is set to Ennio Morricone’s orchestral score with evocative songs by Roy Orbison and the White Stripes.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Hateful Eight” is an exploitive, self-indulgent 7, a sadistic, highly-stylized Western.