Film Review: The Hateful Eight
In 2015, Quentin Tarantino released The Hateful Eight starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern. The film grossed $145.3 million at the box office and won the EDA Award for Best Film Score, the Austen Film Critics Association Award for Best Score, the British Academy Film Award for Best Original Music, the Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Score, the Hollywood Film Award for Ensemble of the Year, and the Golden Globe for Best Original Score. It was also nominated for the Golden Globe Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture and the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography.
A few years after the Civil War, bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth and his fugitive Daisy Domergue head for the town of Red Rock to bring the latter to justice. However, they soon encounter ex-Union solder Marquis Warren and Red Rock’s new sheriff Chris Mannix and hole up at Minnie’s Haberdashery to ride out a blizzard. There, they are greeted by the unfamiliar Bob, who’s taking care of the haberdashery, Oswaldo Morbray, Red Rock hangman, cowboy Joe Gage and Confederate General Sanford Smithers.
Another unique film from Tarantino, The Hateful Eight is a good film. However, it’s definitely not the man’s best work and piles on the shock factor the director is known for, especially when it comes to the last few minutes of the film. At the same time though, all of the characters present are interesting and nuanced with none of them being completely morally upright, as per usual with Tarantino. One of the more notable members of the titular Eight is Warren, who ended up being the one to figure everything out through analyzing the situation once he got to the haberdashery. He’s able to figure out that something is amiss when seeing a jellybean on the floor when others are stored on high shelves, he found that the stew Bob made tastes exactly like Minnie’s, even though she’s been gone for a week, and remembered that Minnie hated Mexicans when Bob himself is a Mexican claiming to work for Minnie. Another entertaining aspect to Warren’s character is how he figured out a way to get noticed as a black man in the Reconstruction era. Simply put, he forged a letter from Lincoln which garnered him the respect that should have come with his talent. It all comes together to make a very well-written character.
The film also deconstructs the notion of an anti-hero with three of the eight. Every one of the characters have done terrible things in the past and during the film. However, for those who are supposed to the protagonists, Warren escaped a prisoner of war fort through burning it down, which killed everyone in it. Further, he killed the General, and possibly his son, as well as attacked Native American villages. At the same time, Mannix is a racist who committed atrocities during and after the war and Ruth, who is the most honest of these three, brutally beats his unarmed female prisoner. However, they are a far cry better from the other five characters who are nothing more than murderous thugs and a war criminal hostage.
What also stands out is Tarantino’s writing, as it usually does and it presents a lot of foreshadowing early on in the film. At one point, Mobray is explaining to Ruth and Daisy the difference between systematic and orderly justice and frontier justice, which can be wrong just as much as it can be right. This comes to a head when the film is at the close with Warren and Mannix choosing to enact frontier justice and hang Daisy for her crimes. Another great moment comes when Ruth is showing Warren’s Lincoln letter to Daisy and she spits on it, which prompts Warren to punch her out of the stagecoach and Ruth goes with her as they’re chained together. He complains that it nearly tore his arm off and Daisy chops the same arm off in the climax. The door latch, a notable running gag in the film, also happens to be a bit of foreshadowing as Bob gets defensive when Warren asks who broke the door latch. When the film pulls a flashback, it’s shown that Bob accidentally shot it off.
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