Wyoming, just after the US civil war, and bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is bringing in his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). He is known as The Hangman, because when a warrant says “dead or alive” he always brings them in alive. His bounties don’t escape the noose. And his current prisoner has a reward of ten thousand. He is determined to bring her in. So when he runs into fellow bounty hunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) he is pretty suspicious. But Warren has a bounty of his own, so eventually Ruth is persuaded to let him ride along in his stagecoach.
There is a blizzard moving in on them, so they know they won’t make their final destination before it hits. They’re aiming to reach Minnie’s Haberdashery for some shelter. But Minnie isn’t there. And neither is her husband Sweet Dave. Instead they find Bob tending the cabin, and a full house of passengers from the previous stage coach.
Are they all what they seem? Or are some of them trying to break Domergue free?
This is a Quentin Tarantino film so you presume going in that the dialogue will be more than entertaining. And that the action will be violent and bloody.
The hateful eight certainly has excellent dialogue and plenty of violence. It also looks fantastic. I didn’t see it in the special 70mm release, but nonethless, the film looks so impressive. The close ups on the stage coach and its horses, the shots of the white landscape with nothing but snow snow and more snow. All great.
And I really enjoyed the interactions between Jackson and Russell in the stagecoach. That was great.
You can hear the but coming in this review can’t you?
But once we reach the cabin it just turns meh. I know the title of the film should have alerted me to this fact, but everyone is so damn hateful and unpleasant. I just didn’t care what happened to anyone. Sure there were moments here and there that I appreciated, but as a whole? Really not my cup of tea. Too much nastiness and glee in showing you so much blood. To be honest I was bored by it. I mean, who cares how much fake blood you splatter everywhere!? That certainly isn’t why I go see a film. I want some bit of a plot. I want characters that I can somewhat empathise with, even if I don’t agree with all their actions, or think they are evil, I want to be able to cheer for someone. Or cheer for their demise. Here I just didn’t care. They all deserved to die, but I didn’t care enough to want to go along on that journey with them.
Now, I think you could argue that all this is a film with a message for the audience that normally goes to Tarantino films to cheer on the brutalness of it all. It does have a lot to say with regards to racism and sexism, as well. But for me, as a viewer, that intellectual aspect to the film doesn’t make it a better film, because for it to be a great film it should have been able to entertain as well as get its message across.
In short, great start but overall meh.