Review: Django Unchained

THE SETUP: A slave (Jamie Foxx) gets a chance for the happy dance after he’s freed, paid to kill white folks and gets the opportunity to rescue his beloved Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). His obstacles: racism, guns and slavery…more of an “all at once” than a “not in any particular order” thing.

THE THOUGHTS: When you watch a Quentin Tarantino movie, you know what you can expect, or at least what you can hope to expect: long pieces of well-written dialogue; uber-violence almost to a comedic level; characters that raise that “cool” bar and a cameo by the man himself. Django (The “D” is silent) follows the formula and it’s awesome.

It’s really hard to pick a stand out in this movie. Yes, Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington were great as the “less than lucky” lovers trying to reunite, but it was Christoph Waltz’s and Leonardo DiCaprio’s characters that really stood out for me. You love Waltz the minute he shows up on screen and every second after. A German bounty hunter with a very unique way of doing (and saying) things while DiCaprio’s slave owner enjoys some of the best lines and monologues in the movie.

Speaking of words, I could listen to a Tarantino monologue anytime. They are so well structured and so well executed by these actors that you look forward to them as much as any action scene. From Samuel L. Jackson and his description of a rival slave owner, DiCaprio explaining the difference in skulls, and Waltz breaking down the details of why he killed a sheriff in front of 50+ guns aimed at his head…it was all gold.

There’s been a bit of concern over the liberal use of the N-word. To be honest, it’s used almost every 5 to 10 minutes. It’s a terrible word that shouldn’t be used, not now or then…however, that was then. Set in 1858, it was a much different world we lived in and the language is true to the time. Is it used in a humourous way? No. Just a terrible word, used as it was, matter of factly.

As for violence, if you have some problems with it, why are you watching a Quentin Tarantino movie? Here it’s done as much for comedic effect as it is to drive the story. That’s better than most “action” movies can claim.

If I had one gripe about the movie, it was length. This one clocks in at almost three hours. Now, I like me some Tarantino but there was a point in the movie where I looked at my watch and still knew there was a lot more story to tell. Not good.

5 stars – tell everyone you know.  I’m loving this “Tarantino salute to genres.” He really was all about the crime theme for a bit (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs) but with Inglorious Basterds (War) and now this….what the hell could he do with a science fiction film? As a love letter to all things western, this is probably one of the best movies of the year.

Random Recommendations
Killing Zoe (1993) – It’s one thing to watch a rip-off of a Quentin Tarantino movie (there are a lot) but it’s another when it’s executive produced by the man himself. Eric Stoltz is Zed, a guy just trying to rob a bank with his buddies in Paris, when he runs into his favourite call-girl, who is also a bank teller.

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