The Hateful Eight ★★½

Whilst almost all of us can agree that Quentin Tarantino needs to stop having a hard on for a certain offensive racial epithet, the over-abundant usage on display here is not the only bad thing about the appalling screenplay for The Hateful Eight.

Bluntly, this is the most continuity-error riddled, arrogantly dumb, provocative screenplay Tarantino has ever turned in. I don't even know where to start with the poor choices he makes here. Are we really expected to believe that, by way of introduction to Tim Roth and the other strangers at Minnie's Haberdashery, Kurt Russell mentions that his fellow traveller has a letter from Abraham Lincoln? Why would that even come up?! Surely it would make more sense for it to be reintroduced to the plot over the dinner table when Walton Goggins, who has been told about it en route, asks after it? Why on earth does Tarantino choose to incorporate a narrative voice over an hour or so into the film? It's just not necessary, and the fact that the film has got along fine without it until that point (and more, that it's only used one more time after) proves this. I know that it allows us to see the poisoning of the coffee pot, but that could easily have been shown in a satisfyingly subtle manner during Samuel L Jackson's goading of Bruce Dern, in the same way that the camera later alights upon Michael Madsen's hidden weapon. The only reason that narration is used is to allow Tarantino one of his insufferable cameos - though I guess that at least this time around, it's an off-camera one.

On the subject of his favourite racial slur though, I get that this was in common parlance back in the 1800s but that doesn't mean it needs to be used so frequently. Why have Kurt Russell chastise Jennifer Jason Leigh for calling Samuel L Jackson the n word in their opening scene, only to have him then go on and use it as liberally as every other character? Wouldn't it have been so much more dramatic to have Russell only start to direct such offensive language at Jackson after the reveal about the Lincoln letter? It certainly would have said something about Russell's character and would have been much more satisfying and three dimensional. Tarantino's repetitive usage of the word robs it of its actual, offensive meaning. It just becomes punctuation and that disturbs me. It's not just the racial slur that The Hateful Eight is riddled with either, as there's a lot of misogynistic epithets flying around too, coupled with virtually every character seemingly taking a punch at Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Now, I get that a film featuring a cast made up almost universally of characters with no redeeming features whatsoever is going to be uncompromising, but often this is just plain unpleasant. When you combine that tone with the ridiculous OTT violence, you have a deeply problematic movie. I really hated the CGI blood splatters here, it was like watching The sodding Expendables! Also, Tarantino seems to have a thing for covering Jennifer Jason Leigh in bloodshed like she's in a bukkake party, which only further adds to the stench of misogyny wafting from the screen.

I deliberately held off watching this one for some time because I just had a feeling I wouldn't get on board with it. It felt like an odd decision to follow up Django Unchained with another western and, as a result, it does feel like a director treading water and possibly, deliberately and provocatively seeing how far he can push his screen depiction's of racism and misogyny on his audience. Personally, this is lower tier Tarantino; I'd put it down there with the Kill Bill films, which I equally found self indulgent and overrated. It's a good looking film which has some good performances (Kurt Russell is doing a fine John Wayne and I didn't really see the comparisons many drew between Tim Roth and Christoph Waltz myself) and I quite like the idea of a rogues gallery of the kind of guest villains who would routinely pop up in old TV westerns like Bonanza and The High Chaparral, but it's not as clever or as entertaining as it thinks it is. It's also far too long too. Remove the n words and I imagine Tarantino would have a considerably shorter film! Clearly, Tarantino is now at the stage where he just thinks everything he does is golden. It's not. This was hugely problematic and needed a bloody good script editor who wouldn't take his bullshit and could tell him it wasn't working.

If you really want to see a good mystery western, then look no further than Breakheart Pass.

Mark liked these reviews