Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s latest adventure into history following the success of Inglourious Basterds. ‘Unchained‘ delves deeper into America’s past and examines, in a way that only Tarantino could do, the ugly side of American history that is often brushed over in the mainstream.
Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave freed by bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Schultz employs Django to help him bring three overseers of slave farms to their demise and the two grow a mutual respect between one another as they journey. Upon learning of Django’s wife being a slave at Candieland, owned by Calvin Candie, King Schultz decides to train and help Django embark on a revenge mission to free his wife.
It’s a fantastic story of revenge and as you would expect Django Unchained is wonderfully written. Tarantino is famous for his dialogue and while he seems to reign that in here there are still a few scenes where you get the back and forth, quick moving dialogue which is fun to see and listen to. One thing Tarantino doesn’t reign in, however, is his love of violence and gore; the blood flies everywhere at such ridiculous angles and guts come flying out of dead bodies in a way that is hilarious, but that is what makes Tarantino so enjoyable. As a person in interviews he is so over the top and you expect that from his films, it’s brilliant.
Jamie Foxx’s lead performance helps to make Django one of the coolest characters ever committed to film in my opinion. Django is just a complete character, he is so likeable and has so many different colours to his personality which makes him very interesting to watch, so credit to Tarantino for his creation but also Foxx for bringing him to life. There is one scene in particular that springs to mind involving Django and two of the Brittle brothers where Foxx really lets loose all of Django’s pent up anger and this makes this particular scene difficult to watch but so enjoyable at the same time because you’re on his side; there’s a wildness in his eyes.
The rest of the cast is almost flawless too. Christoph Waltz is nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Dr. King Schultz and rightly so, he’s such a likeable character and Waltz’s performance is the root of a lot of laughs due to his mannerisms. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favourite actors and it is great to see him playing a villain for the first time in his career and this gives him a chance to really let go of himself and bring a very intense and uncomfortable feel about his character; it’s so different to what he has done before but it is up there with his best performances. For me, there were only two let downs: I thought we would get to see a different side of Samuel L. Jackson after the early hype about him but he was just the same as always and largely disappointing for me; and all the way through I was hoping for a Tarantino cameo but when it finally came it was just underwhelming and restrained.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the running time and how Django Unchained sort of falls short because of this but I didn’t feel this to be the case. I did feel like it could have ended at earlier points and been drawn to a close quicker but then what followed those points I really enjoyed and was glad that they carried it on. On the whole, Django Unchained is just a really cool and incredibly stylish film. The beginning is good, the middle is better, and the end is fantastic. Not a realistic choice at the Oscars for Best Picture in my eyes but Tarantino could easily pick up Best Original Screenplay.
All in all, not Tarantino’s best, but far from his worst!
My Rating: 8/10.