A brilliantly crafted take on the spaghetti western, Django Unchained’s sharply juxtaposed servings of brutal violence and humour, delivered with trademark gore, makes for exhilarating yet emotionally exhausting viewing.
Nominated for five Academy Awards, Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece follows the journey of the slave Django, played well by Jamie Foxx, who is released from his life of slavery by the German bounty hunter Dr King Shultz (Christopher Waltz).
Shultz enlists Django’s help to find and kill a group of outlaws, promising in return to free the slave, help him find his beloved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) and wreak vengeance on the people who tore them apart.
The expedition leads them to the cruel and charismatic plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), to whom the pair pretends to be in the market for Gladiator-style combat slaves, called ‘Mandingo fighters’ - before all hell breaks loose.
Despite its 167-minute running time, this Quentin Tarantino offering - possibly the best yet, and if not, then definitely top three – keeps the viewer utterly hooked from beginning to end. Excessively violent, this is not for the squeamish, but if you’re a Tarantino fan, you’ll be in heaven
The taxing depiction of the realities of slave life in pre-civil America are happily broken up by Christopher Waltz’s witty and loveable performance as Dr King Shultz, for which he has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
A fantastic scene in which the unlikely Jonah Hill (Superbad, 21 Jump Street), features as a hopeless bag-wearing white supremacist, will have audiences clutching their sides with laughter.
Jamie Foxx’s performance as Django is consistent, and right on the money, as he holds his own alongside heavy-weight drama superstar Leonardo DiCaprio.
Samuel L. Jackson puts in a good performance as a grotesquely loyal slave who sticks by his oppressive owner, leading to disaster for the other characters.
Unfortunately, the main female presence outside the male-dominated cast is weak. Kerry Washington, who plays Broomhilda, Django’s wife, comes across as screechy, and one-dimensional.
The much-anticipated cameo by Tarantino is longer than usual and pays homage to the adage that people should stick to what they do best.
The soundtrack was fantastically western, and the tailor-made theme song, by Luis Enriquez Bacalov, was overstated, but again worked somehow.
Django Unchained was just the right amount of action, gore, drama, intensity, and humour. It was undeniably Tarantino, and definitely worth the trip. Especially since no horses were harmed in the making of the movie.
To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Walters at [email protected]