Review: The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film The Hateful Eight is a bloody, brutal and riotous blast of a western that can’t help but run out of steam come its inevitable end. John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a notorious bounty hunter, is forced to take shelter from a blizzard in a halfway house while taking a fugitive to be tried in Red Rock. There, he engages with other stranded travels – played by the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth – who may or may not be as they seem. There’s a lot of trickery to The Hateful Eight as the script weaves a tangled web as to who these characters are and their ultimate intentions. Tarantino pulls out all the stops to deliver a fun single room battle of wits, and there’s oodles of blood shed and unexpected cutaways in the process. Individual moments and details are noticed (the score and production values are all there and well used), but it’s the way these build up to bigger payoffs that counts, the best of which are worth seeing blind. Russell and Jackson are on top form right through, the latter revelling in the long stretches of dialogue that prove to be more rewarding – and revealing – than expected. It’s a barely noticeable Jennifer Jason Leigh as Ruth’s prize who steals the show, however. Her face battered, bruised and, for a large stretch of time, covered in other people’s blood, she owns the role, coming into it more as the madness descends into a prolonged end that’s one of the few nags. The Hateful Eight is a rollicking, if long, ride that doesn’t quite know when to call it quits.

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