Tarantino reunites with Christoph Waltz (an Oscar-winner for his role as Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds) and frequent collaborator Samuel L Jackson for this twisted take on spaghetti Westerns. Actually, Django Unchained is more than that...it's a genre-bending mash-up of R-rated, gory proportions. Joining in to play on Tarantino's playground are Jamie Foxx as the title character, Leonardo DiCaprio as the film's mustache-twirling villain, and Kerry Washington as the lovely leading lady in need of rescue.
Tarantino loves cinema and few of his fellow filmmakers or cinephiles could beat him in a trivia contest. He knows his stuff, and his love of film history is felt in every frame of Django Unchained. And as with all of Tarantino's films, it takes multiple viewings to pick up on all the references - something that makes his movies must-haves on DVD or Blu-ray.
Not many screenwriters can dream up dialogue like Tarantino and he uses this skill to create a story skewering America's nasty slave-owning history. He doesn't just gently ladle this good vs evil tale out to his audience but instead jams the spoon down our throats. And we - and I'm referring to Tarantino fans - gratefully accept it and ask for more. Who cares if the third act is a wobbly mess when acts 1 and 2 include the sharpest writing in years?
When Tarantino first introduces audiences to the two characters we'll come to embrace and respect, it's while Django (Foxx) is chained up to other slaves as they march slowly in the dark in the middle of nowhere to market. Waltz arrives playing a bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz and in a scene that's close to being as perfectly written and delivered as Waltz' farmhouse scene from Inglourious Basterds, he frees Django and thus begins a reluctant partnership. What starts as an uneasy alliance in which one side holds all the power transforms over the course of the movie into one in which the unlikely pair become partners and friends. And delivering that transformation, that character development, is Tarantino at his screenwriting best.
Yes, there is so more gore it's absurd yet funny. And yes, the 'n' word is uttered frequently. Oh, and when Samuel L Jackson arrives there's a real chance all of the scenery will disappear as he chomps his way through one of the most outrageous characters Tarantino's ever created. The fact Jackson just goes for it demonstrates the respect the actor has for the filmmaker - and vice versa.
Also going for it is Oscar nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio as the nasty slave-owning plantation owner Calvin Candie who has purchased Django's wife, forcing a showdown between Django & Dr. Schultz and Candie & his thugs. You'll hate the character but you have to admire DiCaprio's performance.
In fact, there's not a single misstep by any of the Django Unchained cast. Led by Foxx as a slave-turned-bounty-hunter and Waltz as a man with more layers than initially revealed, Django Unchained's ensemble is a top-notch cast with everyone at the top of their games.
Django Unchained is an absolute must-see for Tarantino fans, but it's not necessary to be into either Tarantino or Westerns to be entertained by this R-rated bloody serving of cinematic fun. This one's for film lovers, action fans, comedy geeks, and anyone who doesn't mind their movies with in-your-face violence or who doesn't need their films told through a politically correct filter.
Django Unchained was directed by Quentin Tarantino and is rated R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity.
Theatrical Release: December 25, 2012