There is always this immense feeling of excitement and joy that overcomes me whenever I am about to watch a Quentin Tarantino picture. Perhaps it is because I know that I am about to witness yet another series of dazzling exchanges of dialogue between the characters that Tarantino has come up with. Or, perhaps it is because of the feeling I get just before mind-blowing and radical action scenes erupt on the screen in ways that only Tarantino can dream of. Or, if I am really lucky, Tarantino's latest film would have all these elements. Thankfully, this film does, and a lot more. Django Unchained is as Tarantino-esque as all his other masterpieces. It is a picture that I know I will never get tired of watching many, many times. It joins his other classics as a true representation of what sort of film such a unique talent as Quentin Tarantino can still continue to deliver. Django Unchained is Tarantino's latest mash-up and it is magnificent.
One of the main reasons why I enjoy Django Unchained so much is the acting talent in it. The entire cast does an excellent job but three performances stand out above the rest: Jamie Foxx as Django, Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie, and Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz.
I would like to begin with Jamie Foxx. He is superb in Django Unchained and provides his best performance since his Oscar-winning role in the Ray Charles biopic, Ray (2004). As the slave looking for revenge, Foxx is instantly convincing. His mannerisms, posture and facial expressions are all spot-on, making us believe in everything that Django does. Jamie Foxx's chemistry with Kerry Washington, who plays Django's wife Broomhilda, is also believable and realistic, a crucial achievement for a lead character. Jamie Foxx is very faithful in bringing his character to life and I could not ask for anything more. A superb performance.
Playing the main villain in Django Unchained is the equally impressive Leonardo DiCaprio. He is the cruel and conniving slave trader Calvin Candie who has Django's wife as a slave on his plantation. I do not recall seeing DiCaprio deliver a really evil performance but he does an outstanding job in Django Unchained. He is simply incredible in every scene he is in and is quite electrifying in this role. It is now one of my favorite DiCaprio performances to date. His fierce eyes and intimidating looks are put to excellent use. Indeed, it is a very memorable Leonardo DiCaprio role that deserves much applause.
The last of the trio of actors, but certainly not the least, is Christoph Waltz. In his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Waltz plays the dentist Dr. King Schultz. He is a kind German doctor who forms a unique friendship with Django. He becomes Django's mentor and agrees to join him on his mission to rescue his wife. I just love what Waltz does with the role he is given. He absolutely chews up every scene he is in, including those opposite Foxx and DiCaprio, an admirable feat. He is peerless in terms of providing pure entertainment and just knows how to keep the viewer hanging unto his character's every word. His role here is perhaps not as iconic as in his first Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds (2009), in which he played the Nazi colonel Hans Landa, but it almost reaches its level of greatness. He is my pick to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, which will be taking place on the 24th of February of this year.
A special note should be given for Samuel L. Jackson's performance, even if his role here is small. As Stephen the head supervisor of Calvin Candie's estate, Jackson is outstanding. I really admire Samuel L. Jackson's work in Django Unchained as he manages to leave a lasting impression on the viewer. He continues to prove that his best performances are those in Tarantino's films. They just understand each other and Quentin knows how to use Jackson's talents effectively and in the right way.
Speaking of Quentin Tarantino, how could Django Unchained be such a great film if it was not for him? As a die-hard Tarantino fan, I am very happy with how Django Unchained turned out. It is right up there with Tarantino's other great films, such as Pulp Fiction (1994) and Inglourious Basterds (2009). It is filled with his trademarks in every frame: a hypnotic dialogue, an exaggerated depiction of violence, and an eclectic soundtrack.
Perhaps one of the best scenes that showcase Tarantino's inventive dialogue is the one where Dr. Schultz, surrounded by the angry town folk, escapes unscathed in a way that only someone like Tarantino can devise. In addition, the violence is so way over the top that this film contains one of the bloodiest gun fights I have ever seen in a motion picture. Tarantino's choice of songs in Django Unchained is also excellent, especially “Who Did That To You?” by John Legend and “Freeedom” by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton. A quality soundtrack.
Suffice to say, Tarantino has done a superlative job with Django Unchained. It is yet another testament to his unique talent of creating memorable characters, stories, and scenes. A genius filmmaker.
Quentin Tarantino has a knack for making me smile during the entirety of his films. That is the case with Django Unchained as well. Despite the subject matter of the film, Tarantino still manages to make it so entertaining that one cannot help but smile and laugh. What I really love about Tarantino's films is how he is able to mash-up several genres together and create a film that is uniquely his. One could say that Django Unchained is a mix of the Spaghetti Westerns, blaxploitation, and romance genres. Yet, somehow, Quentin Tarantino breathes new life into those genres with Django Unchained. It is a film that I immensely enjoyed and cannot wait to revisit. Very highly recommended.
MATM Rating: **** out of ****
Quentin Tarantino (Great Director Profile)
- Jamie Foxx (as Django)
- Christoph Waltz (as Dr. King Shultz)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (as Calvin Candie)
- Samuel L. Jackson (as Stephen)
- Kerry Washington (as Broomhilda)
2 hours and 45 minutes
Action / Drama / Western