“I’ve heard people say that
Too much of anything is not good for you, baby” – Barry White – Can’t Get Enough of Your Love
As expected, we’re reminded that The Hateful Eight is the 8th Film from writer/director Quentin Tarrantino at the outset. 168 minutes later (182 if you choose the 70MM Roadshow version, complete with intermission), it ends. Those who are the die-hard fans of the director who stormed out of the South Bay of Los Angeles with his first film Reservoir Dogs will lap up and love every second of it. But for some, the Barry White lyric above may be the best capsule review of The Hateful Eight out there.
Eight people. Well, more, but eight central characters. Six Chapters. In the bitter cold of a Wyoming winter, “Major Marquis Warren” (Samuel L. Jackson) is a bounty hunter stuck on a lonely road. He has three corpses with him that are worth $8,000 if he can get them to Red Rock. A stagecoach comes upon Major Warren with a driver named “O. B. Jackson” (James Parks) and another bounty hunter who paid for a private ride. “John Ruth” (Kurt Russell) is known as “The Hangman” because unlike most bounty hunters, he doesn’t kill his targets. He has his latest target, “Daisy Domergue” (Jennfer Jason Leigh) in custody and it turns out she’s worth $10,000 in Red Rock. She has a date with the hangman.
After some discussion, Major Warren joins the party and the stagecoach moves on. It is being chased by a blizzard that will prevent them from going on through to Red Rock. But before they can get to Minnie’s Haberdashery, their shelter from the storm, they are joined by “Chris Mannix” (Walter Goggins) who claims to be en route to Red Rock to become the town’s Sheriff.
When they finally get to Minnie’s, the titular octet is completed as they meet “Bob the Mexican” (Damian Bechir), “Oswaldo Mobry” (Tim Roth), “Joe Gage” (Michael Madsen) and “General Stanley Smithers” (Bruce Dern). They arrived on an earlier stage. Bob is running the place as “Minnie” (Dana Gourier) and “Sweet Dave” (Gene Jones) are on the other side of the mountain, visiting her mother.
As in any film from Tarantino, there are layers within layers, twists and turns and the need to purchase fake blood is what Beldar and Prymaat Conehead would describe as “mass quantities.” Who will die? Who will be the victim of the goriest death of the movie? Who is double-crossing whom? Can the brutality rise to a level above that of a dancing man using a straight razor to slice off a victim’s ear? Above that of a truly frightening crime lord being sodomized while wearing a ball gag?
The dialogue, as always, is superb. The tension level has ebbs and flows but the viewer will definitely move to the edge of the seat more than a few times. There are surprises. The problem is not with the usual elements of a Tarantino flick, but with the excessive amounts of them. The Hateful Eight is a terrific 130 minute movie being stretched out in an attempt to make it a much longer Western epic. It is an homage to the giants of the Western genre, with a soupcon of tribute here and there to others. Why else would they be on the way to Red Rock, were that not the central location of most of Blazing Saddles? In the final analysis, The Hateful Eight is very entertaining, will be beloved by the QT fanbase but isn’t as awesome as it could have been.