The Hateful Eight: Quentin Tarantino’s eight film turned out to be one of his best. It’s a ‘return to your roots’, character-led drama of escalating tension and utterly outlandish, gory violence. If you prefer QT’s more action-adventure type films (‘Inglorious’ and ‘Kill Bill’ spring to mind) then this might be a bit too much talky-talk and not enough hack-n-slash. But for fans of slow-burn stories and carefully crafted characters, this is a masterclass in delayed gratification. It’s (almost inevitably) a more mature film, and QT indulges his experience and expertise in a way which most directors rarely get the chance to do. In a world where commercial concerns tend to dominate, it’s refreshing that a creative-type gets to do his thing and still stay idiosyncratic and unpredictable. (Translation: this film will not please most people…)
At its core there’s a straightforward outlaw story which delivers the brutal realities of the wild west with bad teeth and buckets of blood. But along the way there’s some stunning cinematography, a nifty soundtrack, sudden plot reversals and ‘didn’t see that coming’ shocks – plus some deft and delicate character development. When Samuel L’s Major reveals the truth about his letter from Abe Lincoln, it’s a gob-smacking moment. In a film full of gob-smacking moments, and a pretty decent locked-room mystery to boot.
Oh, and yes it really does go on for nearly three hours. You either revel in it, or not.
The Hateful Eight doesn’t hit the high points of Reservoir Dogs, but I enjoyed this QT film immensely.
Wild Card: This is absolutely cracking ‘art-house action’, if such a genre exists. If it doesn’t then Jason Statham and William Goldman just invented it. However, if you’re used to Statham’s more typical non-stop fight flicks, then you may be disappointed by Wild Card’s talky script and slow-burn pacing. It’s an intelligent, thought-provoking character-led drama, which just happens to have three stunning fight sequences perfectly inserted into its storyline. The dialogue is so crisp and witty (and especially well delivered not just by Statham but also by Stanley Tucci in one of many stand-out cameos) that you won’t want to miss a word. Statham’s performance demonstrates a depth we rarely get to see from the guy… and then he delivers some of the best, bone-crunching action set pieces we’ve seen in years. He’s completely credible as Nick Wild, a man so hard he’d not sully himself with using a gun a to kill an opponent, and the range of other actors – who add texture and background to Wild’s deteriorating life story – is superb.
Mind you, Wild Card is let down a little by its odd pacing and strangely flat direction. These are in keeping with art movies but they result in a monotone atmosphere, rather than the gradual ramping of tension which the storyline deserves. And the opening 15 minute sequence will certainly put off some people who won’t bother watching beyond that – so they’ll miss the twist. Stick with it, even though you may be wondering what you’ve done during the initial bar-room scene…
Also definitely aim to watch the extended version because this isn’t a particularly long film and we enjoyed every minute. The half-hour of special features were better than average, too.
An entertaining interpretation of the standard revenge storyline, made all the more interesting by some soul-searching into the nature of risk-taking and gambling addiction.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
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