Django Unchained review

Quentin Tarantino
Jamie Foxx
Christoph Waltz
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kerry Washington
Samuel L. Jackson
Rated: R

Leonardo DiCaprio should consider playing a villain more often; he’s quite good at it.

“Django Unchained” follows the title character played by Jamie Foxx. At the beginning of the movie Django is a slave being led to an unknown location. However the caravan that he’s in is stopped by a man named King Schultz (Waltz). Schultz, a bounty hunter, ends up freeing Django and asks him in return to help him identify a trio of criminals for their bounties. Django agrees and the two end up working together as a bounty hunting duo.

As the two work together, Django informs Schultz that he has a wife who is still a slave and aims to get her free. The duo discovers that Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Washington), is owned by a rich plantation owner named Calvin Candie (DiCaprio). The heroes then decide to try and get into the plantation and rescue Django’s wife.

The film is another from Director Quentin Tarantino where he draws upon older film styles and genres to both pay homage to them and also make an entertaining flick, and it works here. The film has the feelings of a buddy-movie, spaghetti western and a touch of blaxploitation, and Tarantino makes the styles blend into a film that is able to entertain for the majority of the near three hour length.

The plot, like other Tarantino movies, is really broken up into different phases which helps keep things from getting dull, for the most part. There are a few scenes here and there that feel like they either are a little to brutal, even for a Tarantino film, or like it is hamming it up to much (like the scene at the end with horse tricks).

The acting is without a doubt the best part of the film. The two heroes, played by Waltz and Foxx are not only fantastic in their delivery of the lines and have extensive mannerisms which really give their characters more personality; they also had great chemistry as well. Their interactions as master and disciple and eventually good friends is believable and doesn’t seem forced, which really helps the film during the first act when it feels like a buddy-movie, and it continues throughout the picture.

The villains are also great. DiCaprio really nails his role as a reserved southern gentleman and at the same time menacing villain at times. He also does a fantastic job working with the two heroes in the film making for great exchanges of dialogue in the second and third acts. Samuel L. Jackson plays a rather easy-to-hate villain, however that’s not a bad thing. Jackson basically plays DiCaprio’s right hand man in a sense and like DiCaprio really does a good job making for a menacing character.

The only character who I have quarrel with is Broomhilda. Tarantino usually writes the female characters to be really strong and able to hold their own in many scenes. Yet here, I felt all he had Kerry Washington do is scream and have a scared look on her face.

Tarantino does deliver on the action for the film nicely. There are a few scenes that get crazy, exploitation film level bloody, and it makes for some pretty fun gun fights. I also liked the musical choices Tarantino made during the film, especially the use of 2Pac in one scene.

Overall, the film has all of the Tarantino-isms that we are used to as an audience. There’s fun action, humorous dialogue and for the most part phenomenal acting from the leads. The length was felt at a few moments and there were a couple scenes that were just a bit to brutal for my liking. Yet for the most part, it was thoroughly enjoyable, 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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