With a fantastic premise to build a movie on, Django Unchained delivers on every front. Set in the deep south during the heyday of slavery, it centers on a German bounty hunter named Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave that he frees in order to help him track down white outlaws.
So how does Django deliver? First off, the aforementioned premise. While I wouldn't classify it as an action movie, Django has something common with the truly great actions movies: a terrific villain. And the villain in Django is simply slavery. There are scene after satisfying scene of Django and Schultz outwitting, confusing, and eventually brutally killing, their racist targets be they outlaws or slave owners, or both. This premise also delivers an almost constant current of unease and tension as the two enter multiple situations where everyone else in the town / plantation / wherever hates Schultz and wants to torture or kill Django, but simply cannot for fear of the law.
On a second front, Django delivers with classic Tarantino flair in both dialogue and brutal violence. Christoph Waltz once again seems to be born to play roles with Tarantino's dialogue coming out of his mouth, and DiCaprio also is loaded with a juicy role. While not packed with action, there are some very satisfying shootouts and brutal kills.
Finally, the performances from the broad cast in this movie are stellar. Thinking back I can't find a weak link, and Jamie Foxx had me worried coming in. He is fine though, and his character's dialogue is fittingly sparse compared to the verbose and eloquent Waltz, and they make a fantastic duo. DiCaprio as mentioned above has a plum role and makes the most of it, but there are also an absolute host of supporting characters who all do well. Most memorable though is Sam Jackson. I hadn't realized he was in this going in, and when I saw him in the credits he played a character about as far away as you can get from what I imagined him playing. He was still awesome and a highlight of the third act.
My one big problem with Django is the length. It's an awesome movie but it felt a bit long. Unlike say, The Dark Knight, it's also easy to think of about 20 minutes that you could snip out here or there: 'music video~esque' snippits of Django or others riding set to songs could have been trimmed, as well as other small scenes that seem like they are remnants of longer scenes that were cut. Normally a long runtime really turns me off, but it's a minor quibble in Django's case when almost the entire movie jumps from one memorable segment to the next. I had high hopes for this flick going in, and Django definitely did not disappoint.