Before you read ahead thinking I am an objective, unbiased and professional movie critic, let’s just clear the air. I love Quentin Tarantino Films. I love his acting roles. I love his uncanny ability to write dialogue that is just as hard hitting, crude, and violent as the scenes he films. I love the way he can turn into a black guy when talking to black folks and a white guy when talking to white folks. All of his movies are winners. I own them, I watch them, I still talk about them in movie discussions. All of this should allude to the fact that I am about kiss this movie’s ass. Which should immediately lead you to the nearest theater to catch it before it heads to DVD.
I went into Hateful Eight completely blind to the story, or even the type of film it was. I was expecting something far more action driven like Django Unchained. I was expecting an unbelievable amount of death and dick chopping. I was expecting titties and some almost clown-like, cartoonish insertion of drug use. I was expecting dialogue riddled with racist language (There was so much that it was almost uncomfortable).
What we received instead was a mind fucking of epic proportions. A dialogue heavy film that focuses on the conversations and nuances happening on screen and far less on what little bit of violence did occur. This is, without a doubt, the most dialogue I feel that I have ever heard in a movie of such caliber, and it was meaningful, deep, funny and troubling dialog. Samuel L. Jackson reminded us who the real motherfucking actor is and Walton Goggins showed us that he will forever be typecast as a hyper racist redneck blessed, or cursed, with the ability to drop the N-bomb so naturally, that you would think, and incorrectly at that, that he is an actual racist. These two made the movie for me, but the very small roster of characters allowed viewers to really see the acting chops of all the folks involved.
If you hate dialogue over action, I implore you to watch this movie. It made a believer out of me. I do feel that with the right direction and production, along with sound and music, you can have a decent movie laden with long stretches of talking, discussing, conversating, arguing and debating with very little onscreen action. This movie does that and it currently has a certified fresh rating of 74% from Rotten Tomatoes. I give the film a strong 8/10 and it was completely different from what I was expecting.
Who Are The Hateful Eight?
1. Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson)
Let’s just call it like it is. Samuel L. Jackson plays “mean motherfucker” better than anyone in Hollywood. As Major Warren, Jackson’s strengths pay off very well. He is easily the primary character and the obvious glue that patches the obscene number of character interactions together.
Major Warren is a pissed off black man wandering the snowy hills of Wyoming, of all places, collecting bounties. He is very well known, as he is an accomplished officer of the Union who saw a lot of bad shit during the Civil War, and finding himself at the end of many a white gun, he has a penchant for antagonizing racist rednecks in the most satisfying and entertaining ways. In a way, Jackson is just as dark and troubled as everyone else, as his lines paint a picture of a blood thirsty, uncompromising bounty hunter who takes joy in killing – particularly white folks.
2. John Ruth (Kurt Russell)
Kurt Russell comes into the film as a paranoid bounty hunter incapable of trusting anyone because of the bounty he has cuffed to his wrist. He is a rough and tumble guy who is just as hard as he looks and very smart, with one very unfortunate character flaw. Apparently he finds it necessary to tell everyone in the movie that his bounty is worth a lot of cash and that they better not try to take her. Yes, her.
His abuse of his bounty is sickening and hilarious at the same time. While I don’t condone elbowing women in the face, let along pistol whipping them, it seemed every time he did this, it was a very well timed response to something she did or said. It’s easy to love and hate John Ruth. I bragged on Jackson and Goggins, but I really need to commend Russell for a job well done as well.
3. Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
Daisy is a mystery through most of the movie. Why is she worth so much money? Why is John Ruth treating her so roughly? Well, as the movie progresses, it’s made apparent that she is batshit crazy. She takes painful blow after blow from Ruth as she steps out of line and she seems to welcome it. She is always covered in blood and gore. She really has it rough, as she is handcuffed to John Ruth through 95% of the film. When the mystery is unveiled, well, it’s not world shaking, but it is still interesting.
Jennifer Jason Leigh really nails the role of a crazy, racist hillbilly who is as hard as she is steadfast in her unwillingness to cooperate with her captors. Her presence feels ominous and her dialogue, while simple, is laced with pure hate and scorn.
4. Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins)
Chris Mannix is a rough and tumble kind of guy, but probably the only one of the eight with any kind of compassion (which is strange, because he’s extremely racist). Walton Goggins delivers an interesting performance as this character and manages to bring a great deal of Justified’s Boyd Crowder onto the big screen. Goggins also has the ability to be that guy that intentionally picks and prods at someone to the point of where they want to violently murder him, and he does manage to do that to both Kurt Russel and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters.
Tarantino’s casting of Goggins was spot on and this character, Chris Mannix, added a flavor to the movie that rounded off some of the hard edges. The character manages to disarm the viewer at times, in order to stay immersed in the dialog of the film and also brings the charisma to the film needed to keep such a “talkative” film interesting.
5. Bob the Mexican (Demian Bichir)
Bob the Mexican is the next mysterious character. Portrayed by Demian Bichir, he is like a caricature of your typical Mexican outlaw. In fact, when I first laid eyes on Bob, I told my dad “Dude, that guy is totes not good!” You could chalk it up to a Mexican guy in Wyoming post Civil War, but if my experiences tell me anything it’s that:
- Mexican characters who have long hair, scruffy beards and always have neutral facial expressions highlighted by their eyes looking 95% closed = SUSPICIOUS.
- Mexican characters who where WAY more clothes than they’re supposed to, even when others are wearing so little, as if they were hiding away a bunch of guns = SUSPICIOUS
- A cartoonish, growly mexican accent = SUSPICIOUS
- When Samuel L Jackson suspects you = SUSPICIOUS
Of course, Tarantino is the king of using stereotypes to make characters, and I felt bad for labeling Bob. I was surprised that this guy is also Esteban Reyes, Mayor of Tijuana, husband to Nancy Botwin. Only you Weeds fans will understand.
6. Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth)
Oswaldo Mobray is a curious English fellow. He is very quirky and is sociable towards everyone in the film, well, up until certain events happen. Tim Roth does a great job of playing the well mannered and well spoken Mobray and manages to mix up the film quite a bit in the last chapter (Yes, the film is divided into chapters).
Of course, he is suspicious too because now we have a blue-blooded Englishman running around Wyoming.
7. Joe Gage (Michael Madsen)
Michael Madsen with long hair, a neck bandanna and smooth black gloves, along with his penchant for writing and his total lack of over hostility and lack of talking much doesn’t seem to fit well into the movie. I am still trying to figure out why this guy is called “The Cow Puncher,” but then there is a Mexican named Bob and a tea sipping blue blood in Wyoming. I guess we will just have to use the ol’ imagination.
Michael Madsen is a star. No. I’m not talking about a mega star, just a star. And he has been one forever. He is in most of Tarantino’s films and hey, why wouldn’t he be in this one? Oh, and he’s super suspicious. I actually believed he would be revealed to be the ultimate bad guy the moment I saw him.
But then I remembered that it was, after all, Michael Madsen.
8. General Sanford “Sandy” Smithers (Bruce Dern)
Old, feeble, quiet, and reserved are words I would use to describe Sandy Smithers. Bruce Dern portrayed the racist, confederate general in a low key and passive-aggressive manner. He is blatantly racist, and draws great ire from Jackson’s character. His presence amongst the Hateful 8 never feels suspicious or suspect, but it does feel like he is there against his will, which is, after seeing the movie, perfect acting.
I will talk about the general some more in my next article on the film, which is spoiler heavy.
Another Long Review
As I was typing this review I realized I was once again nearing 4,000 plus words. So let’s say this was an introduction to the film with an emphasis on the actual eight characters that are part of the Hateful Eight. There are other characters I will discuss on the next article(s), mainly because they are absolute spoilers. See you guys in a couple days!
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