In 2009, Quentin Tarantino tackled Europe’s Nazi past with Inglourious Basterds. Three years later, he’s decided to take care of home. The writer and director’s latest work, Django Unchained, focuses on the darkest time in American history. Jamie Foxx stars as a freed slave, who with the help of a German bounty hunter, searches for his wife in a world set on keeping them apart.

The Players

  • Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Writer: Quentin Tarantino
  • Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Walton Goggins, Jonah Hill
  • Cinematography by: Robert Richardson

The Plot:

Two years before the Civil War, Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) joins forces with a slave called Django (Foxx). They form a partnership centered around an agreement: Django helps King identify three fugitives, and King helps Django find his wife Broomhilda (Washington). She’s now a slave at a Mississippi plantation run by the eccentric Calvin Candie (DiCaprio). The pair must outsmart and outmaneuver Candie, to free Broomhilda from a life of harsh servitude.

The Good:

  • Cast: The actors are top notch. At first, we were a bit hesitant of Foxx‘s casting but he proved us wrong. Any reservations we had were washed away in the first 20 minutes. DiCaprio steps outside the box to deliver a campy, entertaining and disturbing performance as a ruthless slave owner. Other notables include Samuel L. Jackson’s Stephen, who’s as cold and calculating as his boss. There are several known actors who appear in bit parts like Jonah Hill, Amber Tamblyn and Franco Nero, who played the title role in 1966′s Django. It was a nice nod to the original.
  • Music: The soundtrack to Django is a hybrid of modern and vintage tunes. We get the traditional spaghetti western vibe courtesy of Ennio Morricone, paired with hip hop star Rick Ross and R&B legend James Brown. It’s an unusual combination that works well with the story.
  • Humor: Tarantinto is known for infusing humor into his dark tales. No matter the subject matter, he manages to lighten the mood. You need something to counteract the scenes of brutal violence that’s shown on screen.
  • Realism: Speaking of brutality, Tarantino keeps it real. Slavery was a torturous and degrading experience for African-Americans. Extensive beatings, Mandigo fights, and verbal abuse were expected. It was the norm in this country for hundreds of years, and it wasn’t pretty. The director makes sure you know that.

The So-So:

  • Length: Tarantino‘s not known for short, succint stories. Lengthy tales are his bread and butter. But as with most of his films, there were moments that could have been exorcised. At one point, it feels like the movie’s over. There’s a gunfight, major character deaths and freedom in their grasp. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s an extra 20 minutes that doesn’t add to the story, but gives us good dialogue and an even bigger finale. It’s a double-edge sword.

Overall:

Django Unchained is a worthy successor to Inglourious Basterds. It’s an underdog story with attitude. Despite his limitations, Django’s determined to find his wife. In the midst of the violence and savagery, that’s the main story. It’s a tale of perseverance. He makes a way out of no way, which ironically, is the American dream. 

The Rating: 9/10

Django Unchained opens in theaters Christmas Day.

Photo Gallery:

 

Trailer:

Will you be seeing Django Unchained over the holiday?