“With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.”
Rating – 8 out of 10
Tarantino has definitely brought credibility back to the “revenge” genre. His last three films were all based on that subject. “Kill Bill” was classic over the top samurai fun, Inglorious Basterds was the Jewish fantasy of being able to get back at the Nazis, and now “Django” again deals with the historical fictional revenge of what would happen if a slave was able to get back at his owners.
A lot has been written about this film and little of it focused on its quality. Most of what I read was about its use of the N-word, its over the top violence, and its realistic depiction of torture towards slaves. All of what you’ve heard is true. It constantly uses the N-word, its violence is the most extreme yet for a Tarantino film, and its depiction of slave torture is gruesome and cruel. But, guess what? It’s also a hell of a film! Tarantino and Westerns were bound to cross paths at some point. All of his films have nods to spaghetti westerns, particularly Sergio Leone’s masterpieces. But, while he takes elements from the past, this is definitely an original piece of work with rock solid direction and a pitch perfect cast all the way around.
Jamie Foxx hold down the lead just fine, Christoph Waltz is utterly brilliant, Leonardo DiCaprio will no doubt get an Oscar nod, and Samuel Jackson should win one. This is the best performance of Jackson’s entire career and you will develop a hatred for him unlike anyone in a film in some time. While DiCaprio’s slave owner is expected to be a cold and heartless piece of shit, Jackson’s turn as the Uncle Tom is really what will piss you off. The script is really terrific as well and I particularly like Tarantino’s use of time. There’s flashbacks and flash forwards several times to explain back story and they’re never confusing or superfluous. In fact, the first hour of the films is pretty damn near perfect.
So, why not a 10? The middle section bogs it down a bit. There’s a very long stretch where we’re waiting to get to DiCaprio’s plantation that could have been tightened up significantly. There’s also a double ending(I’m trying to stay vague to avoid spoilers) that was fairly unnecessary. It is literally about 25 minutes of cut footage away from being damn near perfect because you really couldn’t ask for much better of a script and certainly not better performances. Highly recommended!