Rare filmmakers have the tendency to eclipse the content of their work, both in style and public recognition. Quentin Tarantino arrived at that status long before he re-modernized the western-film genre with his 2012 all-around critical and commercial success, Django Unchained. Tarantino laces up his cowboy boots once again with his latest entry, The Hateful Eight, a film that almost never happened after Tarantino vowed to abandon the project when its script was leaked all across the internet. But despite his rigid and reactionary declaration, cooler heads prevailed and Tarantino returns to deliver another fine addition to his well-rounded filmography.
Bounty hunter John "The Hangman" Ruth (Kurt Russell) is transporting his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Lee), to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming where she stands to be hung for crimes committed. But when a blistering winter storm forces him and a band of untrustworthy fellows to take shelter in a stopover along the way, tensions begin to mount. And with a steep $10,000 reward on Daisy's head, The Hangman will operate under any means necessary to ensure that he survives the storm and that justice prevails.
The Hateful Eight surfaces as another rare and bold story from an Oscar-winning mind unlike any other. This time around Quentin Tarantino uses a western backdrop as a bit of an homage to the classic stage play. The film incorporates an exceptionally-timed intermission to divide Tarantino's newest irregular story into two fully different subsections. The first of which is used as an introductory to our eight mysterious characters. But throughout the second half of the film, the characters reveal their true colors culminating in a bloody and gruesome showdown that's to be expect from Tarantino. As always, it's the film's absorbing dialogue and the director's keen eye for camera work that turns a nearly three hour story into a wildly engaging thrill ride. The Hateful Eight never tries to mask a valuable life lesson or tell some profound, insightful message. It's an experience created simply to entertain, and it achieves that with unburdened ease.
Despite the feature's stylish successes and Oscar-caliber screenplay, The Hateful Eight reveals a few weaknesses. For starters, the cleverly implemented intermission is a foregone necessity. Without this brief separation from the story, The Hateful Eight would have been a far less enjoyable one-sitting watch. Furthermore, Tarantino has long ditched the normal tendencies of screenwriting. As a result, this time around he decides the characters are of much less importance than the wildly epic tale he aims to construct. Consequently, any strong emotional attachment to the movie is out of the question. Instead, the audience is expected to sit back, relax and enjoy the twisted and perverse concoctions of a storytelling genius.
Quentin Tarantino's latest effort falls shy of his highly regarded, Django Unchained. However, The Hateful Eight is still a strong piece of filmmaking in its own right. Tarantino continues to deliver superb direction in support of a brilliantly crafted set of characters brought to life by a gift team of performers. Even if Jennifer Jason Leigh stands as the most likely cast member to receive an Oscar nomination, it's Samuel L. Jackson who steals the show with an onslaught of hilarious one-liners. You should expect to literally laugh out loud, a lot. And if you can stomach another gory finale from Tarantino, then The Hateful Eight is something you should savor.