Taking a page out of history, Quentin Tarantino adds his version of the unsettling times in his newest film Django Unchained. Much like his Inglourious Basterds this outrageous adventure generates tongue-in-cheek satire and raises eyebrows in it’s nearly 3 hours of ‘creative’ damnation. Taking the film with a grain of salt, the audience should get as much movie madness out of Django as they were exposed with Basterds.
The story finds bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) traveling in his tooth topped horse and buggy on a lonely deserted road two years prior to the American Civil War. Traveling toward him on the same road a slave trader with several chained slaves are about to cross his path. The two meet up, start a cautious conversation and Schultz offers to buy one of the slaves. The slavers resist and a gun fight pursues with Schultz taking the slave Django (Jamie Foxx) from the group. After Schultz turns Django into a budding bounty hunter, the two start out on a blood curdling rampage across the south.
Really unrelenting and intimidating the film shows the vicious side of Schultz with his plan to profit by taking down wanted killers, slave owners and just about anyone who gets in his way. Teaching Django all his tricks of the trade, the two are an out of control wrecking ball that stops for no one. The back-story on how Django became a slave gets weaved into the tale and that brings his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) into the story. The fledgling bounty hunter searches for her while getting retribution for his slavery induced abuse.
The acting in Django Unchained equals Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds that received 8 Oscar nominations with Christoph Waltz taking one home for his efforts. Here Waltz continues to show his amazing talent for dark comedy giving an outstanding effort as the dentist disguised quick draw artist that makes this film work in both action and dialog delivery. His ability to bring Shultz to the screen, although a similar persona to his Col. Hans Landa an incensed German SS killer with a fondness for taking down Jews in WWII, makes his character interesting, cunning and relentless. He’s a hero of sorts who’s determined to be the best gun slinger in the South and lets nothing get in his way.
In support are two of the best performances of 2012, Jamie Foxx in the title role and Leonardo DiCaprio’s plantation owner Calvin Candie. Foxx cruises to the top of his game with an outstanding performance as the abused slave who wants revenge rather than the monetary reward. His scarred Django emulates the significance of the point of the story, a cruel injustice to humanity. While it’s not easy to show how debasing it must have been being mistreated by slavers, Foxx’s incredible portrayal of his character easily wins you over.
DiCaprio takes on the role of Candie the misguided plantation owner with ease making him this naïve character who listens to his despotic head house slave Steven, played by Samuel L. Jackson, a suspicious, selfish and controlling confidant. In a key scene where Schultz tries to bamboozle Candie, you can see the changes in DiCaprio’s boastful to an inquisitively nervous plantation owner as the act gets played out.
Direction and writing of Django Unchained by Tarantino certainly qualifies as one of his best efforts to date. His ability to bring interesting characters to the screen, while delving into some of the most despotic subject matters, is unequaled in cinematic history. While the subject matter of slavery brought out in this film does go over the top showing some very cruel scenes that may disturb those that have not come to grips with the past, the movie does move toward a reasonable resolve. If you’ve seen Tarantino’s films he has made over the past three decades you’ll probably get a feel for his fondness for unconventional narratives that agitate, shock, embarrass, incite anger, ridicule and even make you laugh at content you really shouldn’t.
Django Unchained has been rated R by the MPAA for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity. The film contains some very brutal scenes, very realistic killing and derogatory slang including the N word an inordinate number of times.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Django Unchained is on an equal level with Inglourious Basterds and entertains those who like to indulge in Tarantino films. ★★★★★★
Additional Film Information: