Tarantino has always loved director Sergio Leone and his epic spaghetti westerns. Now he is finally able to play homage to one of his idols.
Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave who becomes a bounty hunter after he is freed by a bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). They form a partnership after Schultz agrees to help Django free his wife (Kerry Washington) from vicious plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Tarantino has struggled in my eyes with his last two efforts. “Death Proof” was probably the worst film in his arsenal and “Inglorious Basterds” was overly long and extremely uneven. We had almost thought the film fanatic turned shock director had delivered his goods and left.
“Django” changes that notion with a huge applause. This is definitely his best since “Kill Bill” and possibly could be in his top four films. Tarantino is back and this is the way we want him. Fresh writing, controversial story-telling, comedic timing and intense action. It is all here. From the opening scene where Django is freed to the final shoot out, the movie moves along at a brisk pace you kind of never want it to end.
Tarantino had originally offered the lead role of Django to Will Smith but he declined so Jamie Foxx picked up the gauntlet and once again proved he is a very adaptable actor. You feel the disgust, worry with him, feel his sorrow and scream with joy when he succeeds.
This is a very multi-layered hero and Foxx delivers him with panache. I loved the scenes where Django has to deal with the horrors but he looks off and sees the beautiful Kerry Washington in a canary yellow dress smiling back at him. That kind of subtlety just resonates with what Foxx is trying to convey deep within Django.
Waltz plays the opposite to what he did in “Inglorious Basterds” and is charming, funny, warm and a perfect mentor for Django. He is delightful just not sure it is Oscar worthy. DiCaprio is sly, slick and mean as hell and I almost like more as the villain. He makes a really interesting one. Kerry Washington’s face is a road map of emotion throughout this film. Like she does on TV’s Scandal, Kerry plays a vulernable yet strong-willed and very internal woman. Sam Jackson’s old bitter house slave is probably one of the best performances in his repertoire and probably deserves the nomination more than Waltz. He’s despicable.
Another fun thing about this film are all the cameos from Don Johnson to Jonah Hill to Lee Horsley. It is fun to watch for them. If they were to do a sequel maybe they could expand on Django’s antagonistic relationship with Bruce Dern.
Why is this film such a surprise? Because Tarantino has taken a dark time in our history and turned it into a hero’s journey. And why not those slaves that escaped slavery for freedom are heroes. Except with this, it is told with vintage Tarantino style!
4.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer