Date: January 2013
Release Year: 2012, Director: Quentin Tarantino, IMDB Link
I am not a huge fan of Western genre. Unless it is exceptionally well done (as in Once Upon a Time in the West or The Unforgiven) I find the concept quite boring. However, as soon as I heard that Tarantino’s new movie is going to be a Western, I got really excited, since it seemed to be a perfect setting for a Tarantino story. Outlaws, gunfights, lots of potential for racist jokes.. pretty much everything you want from a Tarantino movie. Django Unchained doesn’t disappoint in that aspect, it is full of well-written dialogue and bloody gunfights, although I would hesitate to put it among his best works.
Django Unchained is basically a revenge story (surprise, surprise..) that revolves around slavery and bounty hunters. Unlike other revenge plots we have seen in Tarantino movies (for instance Kill Bill and Basterds), we are not shown how the prior events took place. Instead, the story takes off immediately by Django (Foxx) being set free by the bounty hunter Schultz (Waltz) and two of them begin a mission that involves killing the people who enslaved Django and rescuing his wife.
Unfortunately, the pace and the excitement set at the beginning of the movie drag down considerably towards the middle section, which is saved by the amazing last half an hour. I can say with confidence that the movie can not carry its humongous length of 165 minutes. It seems like Tarantino tried to squeeze too many dialogues/scenes to the movie, which resulted in a lot of redundant events in the story-line. It would be an overkill to say that the movie is boring, however it would have been much more enjoyable with a harsher editing and shorter running time.
The acting is generally very good. Waltz’s character is unfortunately not as memorable as Colonel Landa, nevertheless he does an amazing job at portraying a warmhearted killer. I wasn’t very impressed by Foxx’s emotionless performance (the role was originally written with Will Smith in mind, whom I think would do a much better job here). On the other hand, DiCaprio gives an outstanding performance as the villain. To me, that was a surprise, because I usually find his acting too stereotypical and straightforward. His scenes (especially the dinner table scene) were definitely among the most memorable parts of the movie. As a bonus, we also get an unforgettable performance from Samuel Jackson as a racist black slave.
Overall, I was expecting something more within the lines of Inglorious Basterds, where Tarantino took a kernel idea (World War II) and blended it with his own unique storytelling and sense of humor. I think he wanted to do something similar to Western genre with this movie, but I think it didn’t produce the same result. Nevertheless, it is a fine movie to watch and I would recommend it if you don’t have high expectations.
Definitive Scenes: The clan scene, mandingo fight, monologue at the dinner table, the final showdown at the farm