Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar | Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Review by Joe Cronin
Attracting a whirlwind of controversy on its way, Django Unchained hits UK cinemas this week. Tarantino returns after a three year hiatus, bringing his trademark mixture of sharp wit and gut-wrenching violence to the spaghetti Western genre. This is a marvellous return to form following the somewhat dull and drawn-out Inglorious Bastards. The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the film is topped off with dynamic performances from Samuel L Jackson, Leonardo Dicaprio and Jamie Foxx. In short, it’s everything you’d expect a Tarantino Western to be.
Django Unchained is a love story at heart. The instantly likeable protagonist is Django himself, deftly played by the charismatic Jamie Foxx. He is plucked from his miserable existence as a black slave in the 1800s by benevolent bounty hunter Dr King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz. By teaching him the tricks of his trade, Dr Schultz opens the door for retribution and paves the way for Django to find his enslaved wife.
The ensuing partnership makes for a fantastic cornerstone for the film, with the charismatic Dr Schultz helping Django escape from numerous unlikely capers; from escaping a racist town after shooting the sheriff, to ensuring the KKK meet a grizzly end. As with any Tarantino film, there are moments of dark comedy, utterly bizarre cameo characters and his trademark long, brewing scenes of suspense that inevitably result in buckets of claret. Where Django Unchained really excels over his last film, is that it never feels protracted. Inglorious Bastards often felt self-indulgent in places; with Django, you’re left gagging for more. This is an impressive feat for a movie that clocks in at 160 minutes.
Arguably, what helps keep you interested over 2 hours 45 minutes is the excellent soundtrack. From the soaring title track to the James Brown sample that 2Pac raps over, the soundtrack assembled here feels eclectic yet apt. For such a long film, the pulsing and varied score adds to the on-screen action like a good condiment.
Django Unchained is probably my favourite recent Tarantino film. Despite it’s length, the pace is relentless, with the action and gore being matched only by a tight and witty script. The stellar cast put in a myriad of top drawer performances making this a film you’ll want to revisit again and again. Thoroughly recommended.
Special features on the Blu-ray include: Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses & Stunts of Django Unchained; The Costume Designs of Sharen Davis; Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of Django Unchained; 20 Years In The Making: The Tarantino XX Blu-ray Collection; and Django Unchained Soundtrack Spot.
Django Unchained is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.