Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz. Leonardo DiCaprio
Director: Quentin Tarantino
You wouldn’t initially associate Tarantino with the western genre, even though most of his films do actually follow a Western formula such as his revenge action movie, Kill Bill (2003).
We think of a classic western as perhaps a Clint Eastwood vehicle, riding into town to deliver justice and restore moral fibre in the way of avenging loved ones.
Go to see Django Unchained and your catapulted into a Western of such style, violence and realism that no other western has quite dared to venture. This is primarily a glorified spaghetti western, with an undercurrent of a love story, which becomes a brutal revenge action movie, gripping you to your seat in suspense.
Django is quintessentially Tarantino. There is brutal violence throughout; we see harrowing scenes when two slaves are made to fight to the death, and when a pack of dogs tears a runaway to pieces. Surprisingly, and almost applaudingly, Tarantino breaks the current trend of cheating realism and insisted that no CGI was to be used.
This is what makes Django so vivid, the gore, shoot outs, and human and animal stunts we see are the very best in special effects and ballistics. With shocks and twists and turns, and the splatter of blood of course, Tarantino knows how to deliver three hours of cinematic craft effortlessly.
We follow freed slave Django played by the wonderfully natural Jamie Foxx, who is trained as a professional killer by a cunning German bounty hunter, Dr. Shutlz (Christopher Waltz) with a gift for words and a like for the theatrical.
Waltz is an enigma, following his captivating performance in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (2009), he continues to demand attention from his first scene on a rickety dentistry wagon where he calmly murders a slave trader in a flurry of eloquent words and charm.
He is a beacon of justice and truth in a dark time in America where slaves are property and inequality isn’t a question, it’s a way of life. The real kick in this film comes in the form of first time major league villain Leonardo DiCaprio as plantation owner Calvin Candie.
Smooth talking, eccentric and dignified, DiCaprio brings a detestable charm to the villain that cannot be ignored. Candie, a man who is a king on his hugely successful plantation Candieland uses slaves to profit. Staging fights to the death.
Django and Dr Shultz journey to Candieland claiming bounties along the way and firing their way past outlaws to con the hideous plantation owner to sell back Django’s wife, who he has in his possession.
Django Unchained is arguably a revisionist western at heart with action and generously strewn tension that is wrapped up in a quintessentially Tarantino picture.
Except no less than cool shoot outs, witty banter and an enviable soundtrack, with a passion for story telling at its heart. It is a truly original take on the western, revisiting classic themes of honour, courage and revenge and influencing them with style and through a contemporary lens.
Django Unchained is out now
FemaleFirst Chelsea Bassnett