Django Unchained (2012) Directed by Quentin Tarantino. With Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L Jackson, Walton Goggins and Don Johnson.
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is a bloody, revenge fuelled western that begins two years before the American Civil war, set against a backdrop of a time and a place of slavery. I say backdrop, but in-fact slavery is front and centre in terms of the central thrust of its plot, yet the film isn’t focused on burrowing under the surface of issues surrounding it, choosing instead to use it as a vehicle for telling the story of Django (Jamie Foxx – the second x is silent) and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).
As you might expect with Tarantino, there’s a plus serving of violence, catchy dialogue and some finely staged set pieces of both action and drama. Many single these elements out as key signatures of his work but in truth, that’s simplifying his talent. Much like Inglourious Basterds before it, Django showcases his ability to take a classic genre and re-introduce a fresh, exciting new dimension to it. It’s like giving a great car a lick of new paint. Tarantino’s love for cinema is evident, and like much of his back catalogue, Django is filled with affectionate homages to that which he holds dear.
It isn’t, however, a perfect experience. Foxx slightly underwhelms in the title role and is overshadowed by both Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, in larger than life turns. Also, it’s too long and Tarantino lazily repeats himself, as pivotal scenes have a ring of familiarity with his his previous offering, Inglourious Basterds.
Overall though, gripes can’t stand in the way of what is a very accomplished looking western, imbued with a real love of the genre. Everyone in the film seems to be having a good time and most of that should pass over to you. Tarantino’s talent glosses over some of the films imperfections as does his sense of fun, to give us yet another slice of superior entertainment. 4/5