Django Unchained (2013) sees Tarantino free himself to explore slavery, revenge and redemption.
Tarantino’s pseudo-western is a film brimming with so much confidence that it almost swaggers across the screen. Jamie Foxx turns in a great performance but Cristoph Waltz just about steals the whole picture from him – as much as he chilled you in “Inglorious Basterds”, he will charm you in this. Add into the mix firing-on-all-cylinders performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and an actually-getting-to-act Samuel L Jackson and you have a heady cocktail of gory, occasionally cartoonish ultra-violence and sly, laugh out loud comedy, including a whole sequence which could have been lifted straight from Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles”.
In mid-19th century America, a bounty hunter named Schultz (Waltz) seeks out a slave named Django (Fox) and buys him because he needs his help to track down his latest bounty. Once the bounty has been claimed, Django wants to find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who was sold separately by their former owner for trying to escape. Schultz offers to help if Django will become his partner and learn the bounty hunting trade. When they learn that Broomhilda has been sold to Candyland, a notorious plantation in Mississippi owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) they must concoct a plan to ingratiate themselves with the ruthless plantation owner to secure her release.
Messy, brazenly exploitative and occasionally over-indulgent, Tarantino’s art for mixing grindhouse, homage and modern filmmaking techniques pays off in a wonderfully kinetic western that treads an uneasy line between illuminating and revelling in the inequities and cruel hypocrisy of the antebellum South.
Breezy, brutal, ballsy and brilliant!