In my opinion, Quentin Tarantino has never directed a truly cohesive film in which all the parts really work. Sure his movies have some unique and interesting scenes, but there are always other scenes that are flat and boring or have characters discussing the most non-relevant things for 20 minutes at a time. It’s like he just throws things in that are interesting to himself; I sometimes wonder if he really cares about the viewers watching his films or if it’s just about his own self-indulgence. His movies are full of scenes that probably should’ve been left on the cutting room floor.
Well I’m happy to say that Django Unchained is his first truly complete film (and yes, that includes the overrated, all over the place Pulp Fiction). For once, he’s made a movie that follows one story and sticks to it without veering off into some other unnecessary character’s backstory just to take up time. Sure there are a couple of flashback scenes but they’re very brief and often essential to the plot. As for the plot itself, that’s typical Tarantino. Has he ever made a film that doesn’t deal with revenge in some way? Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave who was sold separately from his wife and obviously has not seen her since. When a bounty hunter named Dr. Schultz comes along and takes him from his current owners, Django soon realizes there’s an opportunity to find his estranged wife. The bounty hunter is trying to find and kill some men that he knows Django can identify since Shultz doesn’t know what they look like. Since Django is technically no longer a slave, he wants to do whatever he can to find his wife. So if helping this man out can in turn help him accomplish this, of course he’ll go along for the ride.
Since this is a Tarantino film, you can believe there will be blood and guts. While there’s plenty of action and violence, the acting is really good too. Christoph Waltz plays the bounty hunter with sort of a playful delight while other stars make their presence known later in the film. Kerry Washington plays Django’s wife and effectively shows why she’s worth risking his life for. Leonardo DiCaprio is the ruthless plantation owner who owns Django’s wife, and Samuel L. Jackson is his head house slave. Jackson’s character has it better than all the other black people in the film which makes him abuse his own power against them. It brings ironic humor to the film but also shows how classism can overpower racism. He seems to hate the other slaves more than many of the white characters do.
Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to controversy so you can count on him to always push the envelope. And for once, he’s done it right. Only he can turn a movie about slavery into a spaghetti western shoot-‘em-up. The very end of the film is a bit corny and clichéd, especially for him, but overall this is his most complete film to date. It runs a lengthy 2 hours and 45 minutes. But if you have a few hours to spare, you might as well watch an entertaining flick where a slave gets to shoot a bunch of racist slave owners.