Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Kerry Washington
Plot: Bounty hunter and former dentist Dr. Schultz buys the slave Django to help him identify three bounties. Before long Schultz sees that Django is a naturally talented bounty hunter and takes him under his wing with the ultimate goal of freeing Django’s wife. His wife, Broomhilda, is owned by the notorious plantation owner and fight trainer Calvin Candie.
Review: Love him or hate him the arrival of a new Tarantino film in cinemas is something of an event. Expectation is that it will be fun, shocking, funny and violent. Django Unchained has met these expectations in spades with some early reviews proclaiming it the best of his work to date. This could be something of a knee-jerk reaction as while it’s very, very good it’s not the complete package of films like Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds. If you’re heading into the theater expecting to get your usual dose of Tarantino mayhem and inane chatter then you’ll be happy with the results.
In the lead roles are Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz as Django and Dr. King Schultz. Foxx goes through two different takes with this character. During the first part of the film he’s the hesitant and uneducated slave, which he handles really well. In the huddled posture and sidelong glances he sells the part as effectively as the uber-cool gunslinger in the second half. This later version of the character seems to come completely effortlessly to Foxx, and he’s endlessly fun to watch. Waltz is working well alongside Tarantino again after his role as The Jew Hunter – which is something of a relief after films like The Green Hornet. The performance that stands out the most is DiCaprio as the villain. He’s been putting in plenty of good work the past decade (even being the original choice for The Jew Hunter) and it’s good to see him in a role that allows him to completely cut loose.
Over the course of his career Tarantino has shown a steady improvement in his field, developing his own unique style to weave together the many influences that he draws upon. This time around he’s taken most of his stylistic cues from John Ford and Sergio Leone but with his trademark hyper-realistic violence. Again you find yourself laughing at the most absurd moments of the film, such as when a character conflict over the ethics of slavery erupts into a gun fight that features blood billowing through the air. Django Unchained is without a doubt the bloodiest film Tarantino has given us and it’s strangely hilarious. He’s taken a liking to slow-motion a decade after it was trendy and it’s used well.
The narrative is a bit stilted at times. Although Tarantino has dropped the chapter divisions that have been favored in recent films, he hasn’t ironed out the joins as it were. There’s still a very episodic feel to the movie even if the chapters aren’t formally recognized, with many scenes feeling self-contained. The only real difference between this outing and Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds is scenes don’t vary in their style or the character viewpoint. The story is solid but it doesn’t flow as well as it could from act to act.
As to the taboo topic of racism and slavery, something that some people have been quick to take offense to even before seeing the film (coughSpikeLeecough). The basic message of ‘slavery was evil’ is as far as Django Unchained takes things and this isn’t going to be news to anyone. Whatever the intended message is there’s no denying that it’s a shocking depiction and it’s an eye-opener for people not completely familiar with the region’s history. It does give us a glimpse into time and culture for which amends cannot be made. The frequent dropping of the N-word is pretty startling and at times it seems like the actors are feeling a tad hesitant in using it, but everything’s in context.
As said before it’s a great new entry into the Tarantino canon. See it.
Rating: EIGHT outta TEN
Keep an eye out for our upcoming series TARANTINO IS REVIEW where G-Funk will be revisiting the works of this generations most deranged director.