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Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, David Steen, James Remar, Dana Michelle Gourrier, Nichole Galicia, Laura Cayouette, Ato Essandoh, Sammi Rotibi, Clay Donahue Fontenot
Synopsis: With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity
A Throwback to Old Spaghetti Westerns with a Tarantino Twist
There's something to be said about directors like Quentin Tarantino. Sure, you don't have to like any of his movies. Hell, you can downright hate them if you like. But, the one thing you can never take away from the guy is that he's not afraid to take chances with his films; when it comes to telling the story he wants to tell.
In a politically correct society, where most directors would try to stay away from crossing the lines of controversy, Tarantino spits on that line, and crosses it anyway. He doesn't care who gets offended by his films, as he's out to tell the story he wants to tell. He's done it his entire career, as this can date back to one of his earlier movies in "Reservoir Dogs." Therefore, should any of us really be all that surprised how much controversy "Django Unchained" has been causing? It wouldn't be a Tarantino film if there wasn't a hint of controversy to it. Or at the very least, a lot of violence with a humor mixed in between.
As some Tarantino fans know, Quentin has a tendency to mix in "Spaghetti Western" type themes to some of his movies like the "Kill Bill" series, for instance, so it seems only natural that we'd see a "Spaghetti Western" done by the man eventually; mixed with a Tarantino style twist to it. Does it work? Or is it an epic failure? Well, lets get into that now.
The story is essentially a classic revenge story set in the old west. Ordinarily, this type of plot device would be played up as another stereotypical Hollywood cliched film, in hands of almost any other director out there. Not for Tarantino though, as he uses this plot device to not only tell arguably one of the most violent westerns ever made, but he also does it by mixing in a bit of the controversial humor that only a Tarantino film can provide.
The film starts off with a professional dentist, Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who moonlights as a bounty hunter. He finds Django (Jamie Foxx), after being auctioned off for slavery, and frees him in exchange to help him identify a few people that Django might be familiar with; in order for Schultz to collect the bounties on them.
After Django helps Schultz collect his bounty, Schultz decides to take him under his wing, when he soon hears Django's tale of woo about how he plans to find and rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Schultz joins Django in his quest to save his wife, as they soon come to find out that she's a slave under one of the most dangerous men of south known as Mr. Candy (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Mr. Candy is ruthless egotistical man that relishes in his mandigo fighting business, where it pits slaves against each other in a battle to the death, while using only their fists. To make matters worse, Candy shows little to no remorse when it comes to watching his own slaves beat each other to death, nor does he show any sympathy when he order his dogs to rip a runaway slave to pieces. Indeed, Leonardo DiCaprio puts on a performance that's truly mind boggling in this movie, as he seems to relish playing the egotistical slave owner.
Meanwhile, his head house slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), is a fouled mouth "Uncle Tom" that not only brings a lot of humor to the story, but Samuel L. Jackson also seems to relish in his performance as well.
As for Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx, we already knew they could both act, but nobody could've expected the Oscar worthy performances they displayed. Like "Inglourious Basterds", Christoph Waltz continues to shine in whatever role he plays. Although his accent doesn't really seem to change, his performance does; as it's amazing to watch how a man could go from a Jew killing Nazi, in one film, to sympathetic bounty hunter, in another, that tries to aid Django in his quest to be reunited with his wife again. It's amazing to watch the man work, as I think he may have won me over as a fan with this film.
As for Jamie Foxx, lets just say this is arguably his best performance since "Ray." Granted, I would still say "Ray" still features his best work, but "Django Unchained" comes pretty damn close. Although Jamie doesn't say much in the film, his presence in the movie gives off the classic folk hero presence that other classic westerns featured.
It's been said that this movie serves as something of an allegory of Tarantino's thoughts about sticking it to those that condone "human trafficking", and you can definitely see that in this film. Although the movie can be very controversial at times, it doesn't take away from the fact that Tarantino has constructed arguably the best western that Hollywood has produced since the remake of "True Grit." Granted, you don't have to like the movie, nor see it if you prefer not to.
However, in an era where most directors play it safe, Tarantino stands alone as one of the rare few that isn't afraid to take those risks. That's why he's one of Hollywood's best filmmakers, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Overall, I'd give "Django Unchained" a perfect four out of four.