Review: Django Unchained / Cert: 18 / Director: Quentin Tarantino / Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino / Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington / Release Date: January 18th 2013
Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is perhaps his most violent and daring to date. Heavily indebted to the spaghetti westerns of old as well as the cinema of Sam Peckinpah, Django Unchained deals with a difficult and dark time in American history in a predictably flamboyant, stylish manner (using – again predictably – language that will not endear him to the political correctness lobby). It also finds a fruitful middle ground between the director’s heightened movie reality (Inglourious Basterds) and his more down-to-earth efforts (Jackie Brown).
The opening sees dentist-cum-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) locating and freeing the slave Django (Foxx), so that he can help him track down some outlaws and collect the bounty on them. Upon their travels, Schultz teaches Django the tricks of the trade and becomes touched by his pining for his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). In their efforts to get her back, the two of them are led to ruthless plantation owner Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), who keeps Broomhilda amongst his slaves and servants.
The first hour is action-packed and full of brilliant moments, with some wonderful character work from Foxx and Waltz (who, in particular, seems born to be in Tarantino movies). Once they get to the plantation, however, the sharp dialogue and general atmosphere of violence remain but the pacing slows right down. This mid-section could really have done with some trimming. Whereas in Inglourious Basterds, the leisurely convo built tension and actually led to something, here it drags on and rarely ends explosively. Luckily, before long, the violence erupts once more, heralding a thrilling last act.
The gun fights here are truly some of the best ever filmed. Bullet are fired with an earth-shattering bang and, as they hit home, buckets of blood fly across the screen. Foxx is on great form as our hero with a world of pain behind his eyes, and DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson’s scenes together are genius. Awards glory for one or more of these men is surely on the cards.
Because of those pacing issues, Django Unchained is not quite Tarantino’s best, but it still remains one of the most stylish and awe-inspiring films you're likely to see this year.
Expected Rating: 10 out of 10