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Quentin’s not on west form with the Hateful Eight

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Quentin’s not on west form with the Hateful Eight

EVEN for the diehard Quentin Tarantino fan, his eighth movie must rank as a disappointment.

Packed with the flaws that have sometimes been features of his films – the grandiose style, the iffy pacing – and lacking the wonderful dialogue or inventiveness that made much of his work special, it feels like a hackneyed knock-off of one of his own movies.

The violence, when it comes, is grim, graphic and relentless, perhaps more so than in any of his films.

If you want exploding heads and poor storytelling, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s a shame, because the starkly beautiful setting and colourful personalities we meet in the opening half hour make for promising stuff.

We’re in the bleak midwinter in Wyoming, not long after the brutal Civil War, where grudges are still held and a sense of lawlessness abides.

Bountyhunter John Ruth (Russell) has hired a stagecoach to transport his big prize, criminal gang member Daisy Domergue (Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock, where she is to be tried and hanged.

But a storm’s coming and along the way they take on two lone travellers   – Major Marquis Warren (Jackson), a soldier turned bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) a smart-talking local who claims he’s about to take up a job as sheriff of Red Rock.

As the storm hits, they take refuge in Minnie’s, a shop and inn where there’s no sign of the owner but a manager (Demian Bichir) and three other mysterious residents are in situ.

It’s not long before violence looms in an era where bitter memories still run deep.

The sense of threat and menacing dialogue, often Tarantino’s strongest traits, are protracted and overcooked, and the filmmaker takes so long to set out his stall  that by the time it kicks off I found it hard to care.

None of the characters felt like more than cut-outs from baddie central casting, while the film really struggles to find any sort of meaning in its numerous race and war references.

A strong cast help keep it all on a keel for a while, but the lack of dramatic tension really exposes the film’s lengthy running time (it runs to three hours including a ten-minute intermission)

 And while it looks as stunning as you’d expect from this director’s work, and Ennio Morricone’s excellent score adds a sense of atmosphere, the finale feels as pointless as it is violent.

The Hateful Eight (18) 2/5 STARS