Unlike its straight-up, action-packed predecessor, this film plays more like a drawn-out whodunit murder mystery with your typical Tarantino array of quirky characters, heavy dialogue, tongue-in-cheek narrative and over-the-top gore. Throw in an Ennio Morricone intro score and the scene is complete.
Travelling in a horse-driven cart, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is escorting wanted criminal Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) through the harsh snowy fields of Wyoming to her fate at the end of a noose.
Along the way they pick up fellow manhunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) and, after an initial stand-off, the two men agree on a deal to work together for mutual financial gain.
The approaching blizzard sees them take refuge at a way station, where they are joined by even more questionable travellers, including the apparent new sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), inquisitive hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), lonesome gunslinger Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Bob the Mexican (Demian Bichir) and weathered ex-general Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern).
Ruth trusts no one, believing the others are merely biding their time to slit his throat and free his captive. Thus, the scene is set for confrontation, and you know with Tarantino that things are going to get incredibly violent when you least expect it. The gore, at times, is rampantly over-the-top.
At more than three hours and with a typically indulgent Tarantino script, The Hateful Eight has drawn criticism for being too long and perhaps even boring.
But the wonderful cast, who all appear to revel in their characters, really shine throughout. Each character is so deliciously despicable that audiences can’t help but loathe and love them equally. Jason Leigh’s scheming, smiling and battered Daisy is a highlight – why did the actress disappear from our screens for so long?
The whodunit mixed with explosive and very gory violence means The Hateful Eight will most likely appeal to Tarantino fans. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I, for one, am hoping the man gives us one more gem like this before he retires from the industry.
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