The Hateful Eight (2015)
Quentin Tarantino continues his filmatic vindication of racial injustice, this time by taking an odd bunch of characters with him to a desolate stopover in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming some time after the American Civil War. Our protagonists are two ageing bounty hunters, played by Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell, who are on their way to the town of Red Rock to collect bounties for their prisoners, only to be halted by a blizzard which forces them to spend the evening at Minnie's Haberdashery. There they encounter another party of five people with varying backgrounds.
This setup is Tarantino's most ingenious in a while; the blizzard and the desolate haberdashery filled with characters of unknown complexions and allegiances is a perfect starting point from which to spin a tarantinoesque crime story. And at its best, the film is playfully letting us believe that the story can go in almost any direction. That is until we realize that it's all really about the highly anachronistic Major Marquis Warren's day of historical revenge, and that the characters he is surrounded by (with the exception of Bruce Dern's) are merely puppets in his and Tarantino's little game.
There's nothing wrong with being an advocate for justice and the unjustified, but it doesn't go very well together with Tarantino's celebratory attitude to violence. He keeps contradicting himself when he bathes in the blood of (involuntary) representatives for a time and a society that he so obviously views through his comfortably well-enlightened 21st century glasses. As such, The Hateful Eight is not really a historical comment, it's a stew of historical characters with modern perspectives stirred together with Tarantino's special gore sauce.
Tarantino's unique talent for bringing original, well-drawn characters together in situations in which seemingly anything can happen, like he did so well in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, is sadly muddled by his racial hang-up. It may be noble in essence, but it's almost impossible to be the vindicative force that he wants to be while at the same time retaining his artistic merit. So far, over the course of his last three films, this is one of the few feats that Tarantino has not succeeded in.