Score = B
Review by: Kisho Wolfe
Logline: Pass me that gun…I’ve got a wife to collect.
Set in the 1800’s, Django Unchained takes place two years before the civil war. Slave trading was big business and plantation owners held all of the power. Django(Jamie Foxx) knows all about slavery, having being born into it and all. His slave destiny is altered by Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Walz), a German dentist turned bounty hunter, who recruits him to assist in collecting a sizeable bounty. Given his current circumstance, it’s a no brainer to assist the good doctor in hunting down a few criminals he happens to be very familiar with.
Django is not your typical western. Then again, maybe it is if we consider the concept of revenge in movies. This western, however, keeps the focus on a slave who happens to take advantage of his lucky break and become the hero we expect him to be…all in the name of love. And who wouldn’t do whatever it took to rescue not only a wife we actually loved, but also one as beautiful as Kerry Washington? All of us should be so lucky as to find a spouse we’d move heaven and earth against all odds to rescue.
Quentin Tarantino does a good job in making our protagonist smart, but not all knowing as apparent in his struggled reading and vocabulary bank. The progression of Django as a wild, timid slave from the beginning of the film to a hero brimming with consciousness and gusto toward the end felt smooth and on point. We also felt Django’s struggles throughout the film by way of his explosions and at the same time massive restraint during critical points. The anticipation of this guy flipping out and shooting everyone was a bit of the magic that kept you glued to your seat for the near three hour movie experience.
But, the movie doesn’t really feel like three hours. The story is interesting enough and includes a good deal of subtle and not-so-subtle moments to keep you focused. I like the fact that there is almost always some sort of meaningful action happening during the movie, even when we are in plot revealing sequences. Mr. Tarantino has definitely evolved since the days of Reservoir Dogs in terms of static imagery. (That film felt like chewing a stick of gum—good when it starts, but so draining from the chewing that you’re glad to spit it out.)
All in all, I give Django Unchained a strong B. Not exactly an “A” due to the simple fact that Quentin likes to over use certain expletives throughout some of his films. A few times here and there is fine for effect, we get it. But dropping the “N” bomb enough times to make it the stand out word throughout the entire friggin film is a tad much buddy; retro-metro western or not!