So. a Quentin Tarantino’s movie, featuring Samuel L. Jackson. Who can say no to that? I certainly can’t, and I’ve been waiting impatiently for it. So much so that I admittedly watched it way before its release date. But now that it’s finally on cinema, well, a second viewing really wouldn’t hurt anybody.
How would you like to spend your Christmas with strangers? People who you not only know nothing about, but ring a warning bell in your head?
This Christmas, a raging blizzard trapped eight people in Minnie’s Haberdashery: bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell), soon-to-be-hanged Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the new sheriff of Red Rock Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), the Red Rock hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), mysterious Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Mexican inn-keeper Bob (Demian Bichir), and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern).
But not everyone is honest about their identity….
Upon knowing that I’m watching this movie, a friend told me “Oh, you’re watching porn, huh? Your kind of porn.” And to some extent, she’s right. The Hateful Eight is my kind of porn with the delicious gun fights and explosive bloods. It brought back the kind of glee that I got while watching Inglourious Basterds back then, with extra slow burn that is very much worth the development and the end. This is not just a simple revenge story like Kill Bill or Django Unchained, this is a proper murder mystery and western thriller, coupled with authentic Spaghetti Western taste. Really, what’s there not to like?
Well, of course, there’s the long duration and trimming it a little would harm nobody. Sure it is fun, trying to get to know everyone and guessing whether or not someone is actually lying or if it’s just John Ruth’s paranoia. But the slow burn was too slow and I can barely feel the burn so it’s not until Warren starts his tale about Smithers’ son that my excitement pick up and I start to enjoy the ride. It is not until the Fourth Act, though, that thing became so exhilarating it got me sitting at the edge of my seat, anxiously waiting for the next thrills. Seriously, from the Fourth Act until the end credit starts to roll, it’s a breathtaking roller coaster ride. And not the all-blood-no-tale kind either, it’s a stand off with proper suspense and sudden gun fights that got you cursing at the screen. Right until the very end.
Was the wait worth it then? Very much. But it still is a problem when you watch a movie and wish that you could skip right into the middle of it. Or a little before that. And it’s not the waiting, it’s just that the wait wasn’t all that interesting. When you put all these suspicious characters in a closed off space, we’re bound to expect some clashes. It doesn’t have to be physical, some snappy debates or exchanges of cold shoulders would have been enough. You just have to make it compelling. Unfortunately, Tarantino failed this because all the characters’ interaction felt like gentle nudges instead of skin searing rifts. That, and for a character driven storyline, there isn’t enough character depth. I honestly can hardly recall anyone aside from Warren, Daisy, and Chris. I just remember that John Ruth is an abrasive hanging-obsessed guy while Oswaldo felt like a character that should have been played by Christoph Waltz.
I don’t mean to undermine Tim Roth, because he did show quite a good performance. It’s just such a shame he’s playing a character that is so typically Christoph Waltz’s in Tarantino’s movies and so it felt like he’s lacking something. After all, it’s a big shoes to fill. Demian Bichir, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern showed nothing of note. They were there, yes, they filled the screen and for some periods of time made it interesting, true, but that is all. Nothing more and nothing less. Kurt Russell was more interesting, he had the chance to show various emotions, even if Ruth’s abrasive and suspicious nature was the most prominent of all. Samuel L. Jackson is back in all his glory as the gun blazing motherfucker Warren who seemingly give no damn about anyone and anything. Portraying a cunning and authoritative figure you can’t say no to, he was such a sight to behold. And him alone made this movie worth it. It was such a good thing too, that Jennifer Jason Leigh was more than able to hold her weight against him as Daisy. Daisy was vile, rebellious, a firecracker with a dark sense of humor and that is why I love her. I was gleeful the whole time I watched her squared off with Warren in not only battle of wits but also downright nasty claw and fist fight. And, truth be told, I was rooting for her. But the star of the show, the scene stealer that I can’t help but to feel so passionate about, is Walton Goggins’ Chris Mannix. Not only he was the only one with proper character development – he started out as a brat and evolved into a fucking badass – he was also the most compelling multi-dimensional character. So naturally, even if I don’t love him the way I love Daisy, he was still the one I’ll remember the most from this movie.
All in all, The Hateful Eight is one wonderful movie. Not Tarantino’s best, but still is one of my favourites. It was a nice dish of murder mystery wrapped in a glorious Tarantino-esque package. And while most of the casts aren’t memorable, those who are left a strong impression. Add to that some gun blazing moments that caught you off guard and all the gallows jokes, and you have a very fun movie to watch. Would have been even better if it was shorter or had more distinctive characters’ traits. But since it gave me Chris Mannix and Daisy Domergue already, well, I’m not going to complain. At least not that much.
Director: Quentin Tarantino. Writer: Quentin Tarantino. Released on: 19 January 2016 (Indonesia). Casts: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth.