I’ve been a fan of Tarantino since I saw Kill Bill, Vol 1 so I was excited when I first started hearing buzz about this. There was some controversy, usually related to a white man directing a comedy about slavery. I expected a substantial amount of violence, so that wasn’t a shocker to me.
So… Is this newest Tarantino something you should check out?
Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave who’s been separated from his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). A former dentist and current bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) finds Django and offers to reunite the two, if Django helps him track down a notorious trio of killers that Django alone has seen. This starts an incredible roller coaster of action. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Calvin Candle, a well-known slaver, alongside Samuel L. Jackson as his despicable servant Stephen.
The pacing is incredible. It’s nonstop action from the get-go and a lot happens, which makes the 3-hour runtime bearable. There are a few Tarantino-esque moments of dialogue where things slow down, but not nearly the same amount as films like Inglorious Basterds. The three hours flew by.
Jamie Foxx is outstanding as Django but there are definitely some moments when he’s just acting like himself and doesn’t really seem like Django at all. You can tell he had fun but his facade fell apart a few times.
Christoph Waltz was also great as Dr. King Schultz, though nearly identical in personality to his Inglorious Basterds character, though opposite on the moral compass. Kerry Washington was good but had barely an screentime until the final third of the movie. DiCaprio was excellently evil and made this revenge tale worthwhile.
The surprise villain of the movie is Samuel L. Jackson. You know it pretty early on, so it’s not really a spoiler but he is a jerk. Major jerk. And it’s actually a stretch for him, he’s not the smooth-talking badass we’ve seen in his last five movies. I was impressed.
The writing was spot-on. Tarantino definitely works in his style of quirky dialogue and the highlight of the movie for me was a fun banter between the KKK as they discuss the intricacies of cutting eye-holes into pillowcases.
What didn’t work?
My only complaint was the few moments where Foxx broke character. It’s one thing to be a broken and beaten former slave seeking redemption, but there were a few moments where he could’ve stepped right off the streets of LA and into that situation, including mannerisms and vernacular that didn’t seem quite period-appropriate. I usually wouldn’t bring it up except there were times where it drew me out of the movie, so I felt the need to stress it.
I loved it. It didn’t feel too heavy-handed but it also wasn’t making too much light of a tragic story. It is dark and gruesome and sometimes hard to watch, but that’s the way it should be. The cast was stellar and the writing was spot-on. The pacing felt tighter than most of Tarantino’s films, making the three-hour run time much more appropriate. While this isn’t a must-see while it’s in theaters, I’d definitely stress that it’s a must-see at some point.