I kept waiting for that moment when all the awesome set-up, drawn-out dialogue and motley crew of characters comes together to reach that OH DAMN! moment.
What would a Tarantino film be without his blue-eyed boy, Samuel L. Jackson? He plays a grizzly (and very cool) Civil War hero named Major Marquis Warren. The cast includes impressive performances from Kurt Russell as John Ruth, another bounty hunter as well as a Tarantino favourite, Michael Madsen. Tim Roth (from T.V. series Lie To Me) makes an appearance too, and the cast is rounded out by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who performs the role of a real BITCH with some aplomb.
It's a Wyoming Western. Sort of. A Civil War Western, to be more precise, complete with racism and sexism of the most violent kind. I can see why it was rated R18. It turns into a murder mystery, with participants trapped in Minnie's Haberdashery (a guesthouse, or what passed for one back then) during a blizzard. No one can leave, so they're all trapped with a murdering bitch and someone who's secretly in cahoots with her. She's the prize of, and chained to, bounty hunter Kurt Russell, but her compatriot(s) is responsible for intense mayhem. Special mention must be made here of the eerie masterpiece soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. I'd never heard of him, but he's an Italian old-school maestro who's pushing 90. It's all original and expertly executed.
So when Tarantino hit me with a surprising twist towards the end, gosh I was very interested to see how it unfolded. FINALLY! The film becomes interesting. I was disappointed. It's not even worthy of being a twist. The whole movie feels like a drag, especially at 3 hours. Richard warned me of the running time before the start, but I still felt unprepared. It goes on. And on. You wait for something cool, then after an hour or two, you give up. It's 3 hours of pointless drivel. I guess it's meant to be entertaining, but I could think of FAR better ways to spend 3 hours. To be fair, there are a few classic Tarantino bits where you can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. Few and far between though.
Whereas Django Unchained, to take another of Tarantino's racism-themed films, has a very natural plot tension curve, this does not. It's supposed to gradually rise in the beginning, followed a dramatic spike and then relax a little, only to build to a crescendo at the very end. Like when Django smashes some Nazi henchmen, frees all the slaves and blows up the mansion. I dunno what this was.
It drags on forever, then builds to a modicum of tension. The tensest moment for me was just before the plot twist reveal, at roughly 2 hours or so. Then it just plunges. There's NOTHING but relief at the end. Unsatisfying, and possibly Tarantino's worst work. It hurts saying that, but you can't do otherwise. Lame.