After much deliberation, Quentin Tarantino's 8th movie The Hateful Eight finally exists and is finally out on the big screen where it belongs. After Django Unchained, here we have another Western, this time presented in a 70mm format with Ennio Morricone himself scoring it.
I have a good feeling about this.
Indeed, from the get-go the film sucks you in with its beautiful snowy setting, its haunting theme and its reliably great cast not to mention some sharp writing from the maestro himself. The plot sees two bounty hunters meet right before a blizzard is about to hit the region. One of them is John "The Hangman" Ruth (Kurt Russell) who is planning to bring a dangerous criminal (played by an unrecognizable Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to be hanged. The other is Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a mysterious man who proudly carries around with him a letter from Abraham Lincoln. On the way to Minnie's Haberdashery, they meet Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims to be the new Sheriff of Red Rock. Once arrived at the Haberdashery, they find several more shady characters and what follows is a series of intense conversations steeped in post-Civil War rivalries which slowly build into a murder mystery of sorts.
The other "hatefuls" include quiet Mexican Bob (Demian Bichir), British hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), suspicious cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and ex-Confederate General Smithers (Bruce Dern). Also expect some cameo appearances by the likes of Channing Tatum, Zoe Bell and, of course, Tarantino himself who narrates certain parts. Though the film mostly takes place in one location and the blood and shootouts only truly kick off just before Intermission, the terrific performances and writing keeps things interesting. Initially, the main concern is John Ruth suspecting that someone might be secretly working with his prisoner and is plotting against him. Soon after that, Major Warren and General Smithers have an explosive clash after the former describes how he killed the latter's son. Then, it turns out that someone has poisoned the coffee and the hateful eight soon become the hateful seven and the bodies start piling up as tensions mount.
Taking those few moments in Django Unchained where you could the atmosphere with a knife and making a whole film out of it, your enjoyment of The Hateful Eight will depend entirely on whether you're willing to get into the spirit of things and you're fine with spending a good amount of time with these few characters. Bearing in mind that the full version of the film is 187 minutes long. Luckily, fans of the director's work should have no problem with that as the event-style presentation of the film itself is fun and everyone involved is clearly having a great time being part of this project. Basically you're in safe hands and The Hateful Eight is a meticulously told story with loads of great characters and plenty of nasty surprises along the way. Samuel L. Jackson's performance alone is worth the price of admission as the actor proves himself, once again, to be the perfect man to lead any Quentin Tarantino movie.
Perhaps not the director's very best but The Hateful Eight can stand proudly next to Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds as one hell of a well made flick. Tarantino promises another Western and, based on his last two efforts, I couldn't welcome that more.