The Hateful Eight (2015) collects some of my favorite Tarantino actors. Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, and, my favorite of them all, Tim Roth. For that alone I came into The Hateful Eight with a certain amount of love for the movie. I feel that Quentin Tarantino is one of those directors and writers who, if you’ve been watching his work throughout the years, has built up enough credit to allow his audience to come into his movies with a certain amount of trust. You never quite know what’s happening at first, and it may be well past the 90 minute mark before you start to piece it together, but it’s worth it for the payoff at the end.
The Hateful Eight is no different. We start in post-Civil War Wyoming, with Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) in a snowy field, happened upon by a carriage with John Ruth (Kurt Russell) chained to his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). On their way to find shelter, they pick up Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who mildly convinces them that he is the sheriff Red Rock, the town to which Ruth is headed to have Domergue hanged. A blizzard is blowing in and once the foursome and their driver reach shelter at Minnie’s Haberdashery, they’re greeted by four more dubious characters: the Englishman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Bob (Demián Bichir), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). Here they wait out the storm and, essentially, their lives. As with any Tarantino film, there is a fair amount of blood shed, complete with double crossings, plot twists, and furious monologues deftly delivered by my man Sammy J. I will never forget his face as he recounts his interaction with the General’s son.
As an aside, I couldn’t help but notice the stark juxtaposition of light and dark. On the carriage there are five black horses and one white. All of the men are wearing black gloves, except for Samuel L. Jackson, whose gloves are white. Whether this is a simple illumination on the obvious racial differences here – one black man amongst seven fair-skinned men and one woman – or it means something more, I’m not sure, but it’s impossible not to notice that there something is being said with color here.
I will sadly admit that this is not my favorite of Tarantino’s works. Although there were things about it that I loved (Tim Roth’s performance, mainly), it didn’t grab me the way Reservoir Dogs or Inglourious Basterds did the first time I saw them. It’s possible I need to see it again, as I find there’s always something new to discover and pick apart in Tarantino’s works, but on a first viewing I was not as awed by it as I expected I would be. That said, it’s still beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, and worth my time.