Movie review: 'Hateful Eight' is a Western whodunit, Tarantino-style

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

The first question to ask yourself in determining whether or not you will like the new Quentin Tarantino movie: Do you like Quentin Tarantino movies? Because "The Hateful Eight" is pure Tarantino: self-indulgent and a little overlong, but vintage Tarantino from its first frame to its last.

And there are plenty of frames, as "Eight" clocks in around three hours. This is often a red flag - seriously, 2 ½ hours is plenty for a feature film - but it's a slow, tense setup for a rollicking second half. It doesn't feel like three hours.

Of course, Columbus didn't win the lottery for the special 70mm "roadshow" presentations - despite the efforts of some local theaters to snag a spot - so you won't get the opening overture, nor the intermission (which comes in handy, so make sure you hit the restrooms first). Did we miss out? Well, there were scattered reports of projection issues, and the film never really does a whole lot to take advantage of that 70mm presentation, so I think we're probably fine.

Set during a brutal Wyoming winter storm in the days after the Civil War, Tarantino brings together a rogue's gallery of characters, beginning when Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) meets bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his latest prize catch, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

The characters and introductions pile up until everyone convenes in an isolated frontier saloon to wait out the storm. Almost the entire movie is set in the claustrophobia of that setting as a classic parlor mystery of double-crossings and murder unfolds.

Tarantino continues down his recent path of violent (duh) and pulpy explorations of genre, from his WWII "Inglourious Basterds" to his last trip out west, the slave revenge tale "Django Unchained" ("Eight" was originally conceived as a continuation of Django's tale). This is also an exercise in the tension he's toyed with in other movies, like the Nazi bar scene in "Basterds" taken to feature length.

It's also a lot of dialogue, as that great cast chews into lengthy monologues - peppered with a lot of uses of the n-word. Things eventually get hateful, and really, really bloody.

If you like those QT monologues, you'll love this. When things finally settle in, it feels like a stage play - one all but stolen by Jennifer Jason Leigh - similar to the last half of "Reservoir Dogs."

This really boils down to how much you like Tarantino. "Eight" is self-indulgent as all hell, but damn if it isn't a lot of fun. It's like a foul-mouthed Western version of "Clue."

"The Hateful Eight"

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3 1/2 stars out of 4