Django Unchained

Django Unchained ★★★★

Love him or hate him, Quentin Tarantino is going to go down as one of the most famous and distinguished directors of our time, and Django Unchained is another that adds to his growing collection of remarkable films. As with all the classic QT films, Django has superb characters, brilliant performances and memorable dialogue, but it also borrows from his more recent films with its exploitation themes and over-the-top grindhouse violence. It's action-packed, witty, clever and occasionally very funny, but it's definitely not without its flaws either.

Where Django Unchained excels is in its characters. Every single one of the leads brings their A game here. While Jamie Foxx has the least to work with as Django, he is a great fit for the part. Christoph Waltz is yet again fantastic as bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz, although I do have to agree with the criticism that it does occasionally just feel like Hans Landa in a western. DiCaprio as plantation owner Calvin Candie is perhaps even better, and he shows he excels in what is really his first ever role as a flat out 'bad' character. His ability to turn from charming host to terrifying maniac in an instant is chilling, and the 'dinner table' scene is right up there with the opening sequence in Inglorious Basterds in terms of suspense. What really stole the show for me (and surprisingly so) though was Samuel L. Jackson's character Stephen. It's the most interesting character he has played in a long, long time and he brings the performance to match.

Like I said though, it's definitely not a flawless film. It feels about 20-30 minutes too long, and there's a point where it could have quite easily been rounded off only to drag out a few more scenes and give Tarantino time to make a ridiculous and unnecessary cameo. The action scenes work very well for 2/3rds of the film but for me the final couple of shoot-outs felt a bit excessive, and were bordering on the wrong side of silly with the way bodies exploded and flew backwards when shot. Also I realise I'm not the only person to mention it, but the use of the N-word is quite grating. Maybe that's the point, and I understand it's set in a place and period where people would be using the word, but it still felt like Tarantino was really enjoying getting to put it in a couple of times every scene.

I can't put Django on a par with Pulp Fiction, and it's probably also just behind Inglourious and Reservoir Dogs, but it's still a superb film. It's not perfect, but it's incredibly entertaining, and if you like QT's other films then it's hard to see how you could be disappointed here.