Nick’s review published on Letterboxd:
Here's the biggest issue with Hard Eight: by the time Clementine and John have kidnapped the man who refuses to pay Clem, its only 50 minutes into the film; just about 10 minutes since their romance began and a little over an hour when they leave. What takes 15 mintues in the film, takes 20 pages in screenplay, which would easily translate to over 20 minutes of screen time.
What this means is Clem and John's characters don't really have time to breathe the way they do in the screenplay. They don't have extended charcter building moments with Sydney prior to their departure. They don't have the necessary attention required to make the third act matter for them.
While I certainly appreciate the pace of the cut we got and I'm glad the first half of the movie is what it is, it starts to show what's going on in the 2nd and 3rd acts. The Rysher cuts clearly damaged the wholistic picture of the story by failing to follow though with the promise of the 1st act.
It feels like they lost the fine stitching of the film. They lost a lot of Clem's character and they lost a lot of potential emotion and investment in Clam and John's relationship. They lost a lot of what made the emotion and themes clearer in the screenplay and maybe that's in the 150 minute cut. Regardless, what we have doesn't build the story to the point it probably could have.
The movie we got is far from bad, though. You don't really feel the cuts until probably an hour in. Thankfully, the establishing of the story is mostly intact and a lot of the cuts early on feel justified. The cuts that messed with the film are leading up to and surrounding that point where Clem and John need to leave. What was lost was the 2nd act and the transition to the third act. We lost the glue that should make the third act work better than it does.
Admitadedly, a 150 minute cut of this film would probably be overkill. I think a 120ish minute cut would be perfect but who knows. It is what is and its pretty good as is.