Home > Movies, Reviews > Movie Review: Django Unchained is a badass spaghetti western for the 21st century

Movie Review: Django Unchained is a badass spaghetti western for the 21st century

Jamie Foxx Django Unchained with Chrisoph Waltz Dr. King Schultz Quentin Tarantino

You had to know Quentin Tarantino had this one in him all along.

For a one-of-a-kind movie director and pop culture personality who grew up on pulpy genre films, and who went on to make a career out of those genre films, it was only a matter of time before Tarantino turned in a spaghetti western film unlike any other.

Django Unchained is a slavery revenge narrative turned into a cowboy film that delights in some fine acting, finer dialogue and unparallelled gunfighting scenes.

Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave-turned-bounty hunter let off the chain by dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz frees Django to help him identify three brothers with bounties on their heads, but the two prove to be such a good team that they partner up for the long haul. After a winter of the flesh trade business – selling corpses, not slaves, for money – they turn to rescuing Django’s lost wife Broomhilde (Kerry Washington) from wicked plantation owner and black bare-knuckle fighting enthusiast Monsieur Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

The acting is incredible from all involved. Tarantino’s love for Inglorious Basterds alum Christoph Waltz clearly led him to write the German into the script, but that love is well-earned. Waltz plays a delightfully friendly and polite German immigrant with a heart of gold and a strong fidelity to social etiquette. Jamie Foxx runs the gamut between vulnerable husband and vengeful slave, and he’s truly badass with a pistol in his hand. DiCaprio’s Monsieur Candie is charming, funny and despicable as the vindictive master of Candieland, but the true star of the plantation is head slave Stephen, played by longtime Tarantino favourite Samuel L. Jackson.

Django Unchained Samuel L. Jackson Stephen Quentin Tarantino

Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, a head slave stuck in the past.

Stephen is a doddering old man and an Uncle Tom to Candie, but he’s as much a villain as his master, if not more so. He is at turns hilarious and sinister as only Samuel L. Jackson can be. The magic formula with Jackson has always been to get him shouting “God damn!” and that’s absolutely working for him here.

Watch for some cameos here from Jonah Hill as a Klu Klux Klan member who can’t see out his mask eyeholes, and for an odd fleeting glimpse of Amber Tamblyn in a window. Yes, Tarantino’s got so much clout, he can pull in names for cameos that small.

The music in this movie is glorious. Tarantino brings in the theme song from the 1966 cowboy film Django, and you may well catch yourself singing it on the way out of the theatre. But the old school western music is perfectly blended with some modern rap, including Rick Ross’ great “100 Black Coffins” and the Tupac/James Brown mashup “Unchained”.

There aren’t too many jarring cutaways or text insertions here like you’d find in Kill Bill or, to a lesser extent, Inglorious Basterds. Nevertheless, this movie smacks of Tarantino’s style and writing. There’s one point in the movie where everything looks easily wrapped up, but – in true Tarantino fashion – a little matter of social etiquette blows it wide open.

The gun fight that follows this social faux pas is possibly one of the best scenes on film. It’s gory, loud, over the top and so much fun you don’t want it to ever end.

The same can be said for this entire movie.

Django Unchained will leave you laughing, smiling, and slapping Ds in front of every J you write.

This movie is god damn amazing.

Djust go see it.

9 out of 10

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