Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
(2020 Summer Blockbuster Series)
(The 7th film from Quentin Tarantino)
It's a close call but stacked up against 'The Bride' and 'Jules Winnfield' ... I would have to say Django is the most badass leading character in Quentin Tarantino's filmography.
"You silver tongued devil, you."
Like any genre that Tarantino tackles, he comes at it full-on with his hilariously violent exploitative flair ... and his mashup of a spaghetti-western and a slavery revenge drama is no exception. If you have ever seen a Tarantino movie in the theater, you will know that is can be a unique and sometimes awkward experience, based on the amount of people who are there that are not expecting his over the top style. And that was definitely the case when I first saw Django Unchained during its opening weekend in the theater. Being a Jamie Foxx movie, the audience was made up of an interesting mix of people. And at times it became uncomfortable to laugh at the over the top nature of the movie, because of how much it was bothering some people in the crowd. And in this case it was not just the violence that was controversial, but also all the disturbing racism that the film both satirizes and shows the harsh reality of, inorder to maximize the stakes.
"I like the way you die, boy."
(Quick Hits) .... Spoilers:
- If that awesome Django song and red spaghetti-western style text does not get you in the mood for some western action ... I don't know what will
- Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz ..... WOW! After playing the quirky but evil jew hunter in 'Inglourious Basterds' ... QT wrote him another amazing oscar winning part as this quirky badass bounty hunter that frees and mentors Django
- Just the bobblehead tooth on the top of his buggy alone lets you know this guy is a character. And I love how his 'fancy pants' talk irritates the slavers into giving him the opportunity to take them out
- The globs of blood that come exploding out of people is hilariously over the top. And we get a great taste of that when the other freed men decide to obliterate the slaver caught under his horse
- The progression of Jamie Foxx's character Django is excellent. At first as a freed slave he needs a lot of stuff explained to him in order to follow along with Schultz's way of life. And then he becomes a bit of a showboat once he does accumulate some skills. And then finally he gets trained to be the ultimate badass cowboy with nerves of steel, which he will need in order to blast his way through Candy Land when shit goes down
- I am not sure what's up with that bounce he has when he shoots, but I like it
- I had never seen a beer foam scraper before, but those drinks did look super refreshing
- It is great how Django's presence everywhere takes people in these slave states off guard. And they can't do anything about it since him and Schultz are such a great team
- All the gorgeous shots of them riding through these western landscapes is sheer visual bliss
- (Great scene alert) The guy getting shot with blood spraying all over the cotton!
- The KKK scene is genius, with showing them at first being all threatening ... but then cutting to them arguing about their ridiculous masks and plan of attack
- In terms of the intense imagery of the horror of slavery, this movie at times got me as emotional as I got during '12 Years a Slave'. Especially the dog scene, which is ultimately what breaks Schultz and forces him to kill Candie, after he insists that Schultz shake his hand to confirm the deal
- It was such great writing to have that thoughtful moment that showed Django's humanity, since he could not bring himself to kill a man he knew nothing about. But Schultz helps him understand that if a man's face is on a bounty, then he is not innocent, and they have a job to do
- The movie flies by so quickly, and before you know it, they are essentially traveling into the depths of hell known as the Candy Land Plantation ... where Calvin Candie ownes slaves that are trained to fight to the death for his amusement
- While Schultz is sickened by the filth of Candy Land, it is Django who best sticks to the script as he becomes this black slaver with nerves of steel in order to hold his composure. And QT gives us frequent reminders that it is all so he can be with his wife Broomhilda again, played by Kerry Washington
- Being naked in a torture device like that hotbox, must have been unbearable
- The dinner scene is another one of QT's great tension-filled build up's ... where it feels like any moment things will become un-hinged. But this one is unique since every building block is so compelling, and I was never left thinking ... enough already... just start shooting!!!!
- What a spectacular performance by Samuel L. Jackson who totally transforms into his role as the Head of House slave. His character has that place running like clockwork, by essentially being as cruel as Candie himself. And you can tell he must have been through a lot to put himself in that position, and he does not want to give that up for nothing. And he will be damned before he let's two bounty hunters get away with their little scheme under his boss's nose
- Then you have the iconic Leonardo DiCaprio who is able to so effortlessly play this cunning, cocky, but vulnerable plantation owner. They even make his teeth look disgusting from how much he smokes. And I would not be surprised if he was sleeping with his sister
- The eventual shoot out is just pure blood-soaked awesomeness. But unfortunately, Django does not have enough ammo to finish the job, and he must give up since they have Broomhilda held up at gunpoint
- Tarantino's cameo as an Australian miner is goofy, but it does not bug me. And it does not take long for Django to outwit them ... and blow ole QT up
- Damn does Jamie Foxx look awesome riding that horse bareback with fury to get his final revenge!
- Him blowing away Candie's sister, is one of my biggest laugh out loud moments of the movie ... which is then perfectly capped off with the whole damn plantation house blowing up in a blaze of glory
- After all that Django goes back to being a showboat, as he has his horse strut around to impress his lovely wife before they go riding off into the sunset
Thinking about it in retrospect, this comes close to being one of Quentin Tarantino's best films because it owns its perverse subject matter, while making it so much fun to see Django's journey as he rises up to get his revenge. And while it is not my absolute favorite, it is still a great choice when I am in the mood to watch a badass Tarantino movie.
Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... Cheers!