Review: Django Unchained
A bounty hunter making a living in the American south during the 19th century frees a slave to help make a kill, and in turns shapes him into a revenge-seeking killer of his own. With violent, bloody, comedic, and profane results; it is directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Who’s in It?
Jamie Foxx plays freed slave Django, while Christoph Waltz is Dr. King Schultz, a charming, eloquent, murderous German (that should sound familiar). Those standing in the way of money and love include rich white guy Don Johnson, rich white guy Leonardo DiCaprio, rich white guy’s head slave Samuel L. Jackson, and Quentin Tarantino, a white guy who probably isn’t that rich.
This tale of freedom and revenge, laden with expletives and filled with blood, doesn’t really have much to say, and sadly doesn’t satisfy, despite its lengthy running time. It is a fascinating film at times, refreshing and interesting, but next to Tarantino’s other films, especially Inglorious Basterds, Django is sorely lacking.
Waltz is fantastic as usual, but we’ve seen this before, as he is playing almost the same characters as Basterds, only this time bearded, and relatively less evil. Both he and Django are charming on their own and together, but you’re left wanting more. DiCaprio does well as the wealthy, land and slave owning Calvin Candie, but he lacks the latent malevolence of Waltz’s Hans Landa of Basterds.
Across two and a half hours, we have a lot of chatter and action, but nothing goes as far as it should (okay, well the maybe the blood does). Tarantino’s signature, those lengthy, character-defining, chilling, and fascinating conversations are not to be found here, and there is little to be said in the way of tension. Nothing comes close to any scene around a table from Basterds, Death Proof, or Pulp Fiction.
In a film about revenge, as Django seeks his lost love, there is little satisfaction in death, with the movie peaking at the wrong point, and leaving you a bit disappointed. It may not be completely fair to compare Tarantino against his previous work, as this film isn’t bad, but we know what he is capable of, and this just seems lazy.
Should You See It?
I suppose. There are some funny performances, a random cameo, and some very charismatic leading men (the only woman in the film gets little to do, and nothing interesting to say). Just don’t go in with high expectations, and make sure to have a comfy seat.
There are many to be sure, and many filled with profanity as expected, but one of the funnier ones comes later on, from Calvin Candie talking to an annoyed servant.
“What’s the point in having a german [slave] if you can’t wheel her out when you have German guests?