Quentin Tarantino’s eighth movie, like his mighty previous epic Django Unchained, appears to be a western but in fact isn’t a traditional western at all.
So what is it then, partner? Maybe try a mostly minimalist, ultra–violent (naturally), viciously satirical condemnation of modern America, complete with an Ennio Morricone soundtrack offering gorgeous spaghetti western riffs, confronting (and in context) racist talk and lots of splattered brains. As they try and outrun an approaching Wyoming blizzard sometime after the Civil War, a gaggle of characters run into each other in sequences filled with tensely funny Tarantino–esque dialogue: there’s bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell), who’s transporting wanted woman Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to her Red Rock execution, as well as another hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Tarantino’s favourite actor Samu el L. Jackson) and supposed new Red Rock sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). They’re all forced to shelter in Minnie’s Haberdashery, an obvious set where they meet several more deeply untrustworthy types: Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Bob (Demian Bichir) and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern, who never gets out of his chair). If you’re immediately assuming that this will be the stage for gun–toting, Mexican stand–offs, lengthy and Tarantino–ish monologues (or even soliloquies) and blood–spraying aplenty then you’re right, and while many Tarantino haters will see nothing but post–post–post– generic trash here, it’s nevertheless worth pointing out that this is one of this filmmaker’s most daring efforts yet. Lacking the wish–fulfillment, history–rewriting aspects of Inglourious Basterds and Django, it’s actually all about the hateful contemporary US of A, although some audiences might find this subtext somewhat hard to discern beneath the flying gore and exploding skulls. The Hateful Eight is in cinemas now. Rated R