I want you to imagine Agatha Christie, of And Then There Were None fame, and picture her writing a pseudo-western with a little less mystery than what she is known for, but a whole lot more violence and the use of the N-word. Pretty much, that would equate to what you get in The Hateful Eight.
Trigger Warning(s): Excessive use of the N-word, and Consistent, and Aggressive, violence against a woman
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
Everything comes down to one woman, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). She ain’t pretty, ain’t rich, got a mouth on her like a sailor, and yet she is a prized possession. Especially to John Ruth (Kurt Russell), known as the Hangman, who wants her bounty, and to see her hang. Not because he is necessarily a man about justice mind you, for while he has a soft spot shown here and there, he beats the living hell out of her and threatens to kill her repeatedly. But he ain’t alone in finding himself dealing with Daisy and her antics. Nope, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) joins him, and he ain’t no saint either. Granted, of all the people we meet, he is probably the one who is the least bit of a bastard, but he is far from innocent.
Rounding out the cast we got a bunch of suspicious men of which all seem a bit phony and put John on edge. We got the ever so quiet Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), who is more seen than heard; Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), the man who seemingly is to hang Daisy once John reaches his destination, and seems to want to be the peacemaker as Marquis’ presence causes trouble; then there is Bob (Demian Bichir) a random Mexican who somehow found his way all the way up into Wyoming; and then there is Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), someone who is a bit of a wildcard for while he is a soon to be sheriff, he was raised in a family of southerners who didn’t take to the north winning quite well. Making you wonder with Marquis being the center of attention, sometimes as much as Daisy, how will this all end? You know it is a Tarantino movie so someone got to die.
- The chapter system I think helped manage the film’s time length for it helped mark each significant moment, or period of time, and cut it up into digestible bites. That is, as opposed as one thing going into the other, without the pause, and you just wondering eventually when things were to end.
- Though, like most Tarantino movies, the film is dialog heavy, the sub-stories, like Major Marquis’ interaction with General Sandy Smithers’ (Bruce Dern), one of the 8 in the cabin, definitely became highlight moments which helped break the monotony of the long, almost repetitive at times, dialog.
- Both Jackson and Goggins brought many an unexpected comedic moment to the film. Jackson especially toward the latter part of the film.
- Perhaps because the film is contained mostly within one wooden shop, I found that it was fairly easy to identify, and remember, all of the cast members. This is despite some getting more of a backstory than others, and arguably some characters having stronger gimmicks than others. But, despite the differences, you will be left with enough of an impression that even after the film ends, you’ll remember each characters’ name, their reason for being in that shop, and the perception they wanted you to have.
- As hinted in the highlights, there are many times when conversations seem to go on forever or are repeated to the point of wanting to pull out a pistol yourself and shoot the screen. One prime example is John Ruth repeatedly saying how he is going to take Daisy to hang and if anyone tries to stop him they will get a bullet.
- Also, on the topic of Daisy, I must admit the way she is sometimes handled is just borderline stupid. For if it ain’t leaving her by herself, or where she could reach for a gun, it is like she is sometimes underestimated to the point where her moment to shine comes at the end, you don’t take her seriously.
- There were many times I did not understand the thought process of either Major Warren or the person he was interacting with. For example, Major Warren kills someone, and despite this person he kills meaning something quite great to Chris, the two end up being buddy-buddy in the film as if nothing happened. Which, to me, largely contradicted their relationship for most of the film.
On The Fence
John and Major Warren’s violence against Daisy is so constant that it is hard to not become a bit uncomfortable. I mean, between elbows and punches, and so much more, I can imagine someone seriously finding watching those scenes quite triggering. Yet, I must admit, being that she has no redeemable qualities, and says the N word like it is nothing, a part of me doesn’t want to feel bad for her at all.
Final Thought(s): Worth Seeing
I wouldn’t say I recommend you see this, for watching this film is like watching any of the new films Woody Allen puts out. Pretty much you know, for the most part, what to expect, and while the story may have one or two twists, you can almost make an outline before watching the film of what is to happen and be 90% correct in any and all assumptions. I mean, it is a Tarantino film which means blood, guts, and gore; so much dialog that there is the need to question if maybe you have an attention disorder or getting to the point isn’t something Tarantino is able to do; and then there is a tight cast of eccentric characters who all have distinct personalities which make them real enough to seem like people, but just a touch campy at times to almost make them seem like caricatures.
Yet, despite some predictability, as with most Tarantino films, you will be entertained, hence why I’m labeling this Worth Seeing. For the story, even with you knowing it will end up a bloody affair, you are constantly questioning who may walk away from everything, and will they have Daisy with them? Also, while the back and forth sometimes feels like one monologue after another, sometimes the stories do draw you in and make for a nice break between John noting he is taking Daisy to hang. But, perhaps the real saving grace, is the fact there is a balance here. There is enough gore and violence for those who crave their Tarantino blood baths, yet there is still enough stories to make it seem like Tarantino isn’t just about making an HBO-styled production which relies more on shock than substance.