Django Unchained is a unique twist on the spaghetti western genre, as it takes place both in the Wild West, and the Deep South, featuring gun duels and slavery equally. The movie follows the path of Django Freeman (Jaime Foxx), a slave in Texas, who has been separated from his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Django eventually encounters Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter who frees Django, since Django knows the location of three escaped criminals that Shultz needs to kill. Django turns out to be an incredible marksman, and Shultz takes him under his wing as his apprentice bounty hunter. Shultz and Django become fast friends, and Shultz decides to travel to Mississippi to help Django free his beloved Broomhilda from the clutches of psychotic plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). His journey to save her is a long and difficult, filled with death and destruction.
DiCaprio, Waltz and Washington all did wonderful jobs playing their respective characters, but I was most moved by Jamie Foxx’s performance. He plays Django brilliantly, able to show both the profound despair of a husband separated from a beloved wife, and an amazing amount of rage and determination. More importantly however, Foxx is able to make Django, for the lack of a better word, cool. Foxx spits out one-liners without batting an eye, and stares right at explosions without flinching. Django is a great character because he is willing to do anything, and kill anyone in order to reunite with his wife, all with great style, sass and lots and lots of one-liners.
Django Unchained is more of a stylistic look at the Wild West and the Deep South, rather than a gritty historical movie, like 12 Years a Slave. Tarantino however, does not sugar coat the brutality of slavery, featuring a horrifying whipping scene in the first act of the movie. Despite all the horror and violence, Django Unchained is a work of art, with a beautiful soundtrack featuring classic spaghetti western tracks, rap music and neo-soul, combined with perfectly timed close-ups and tense confrontations. At the same time, Django Unchained is hilarious, with ridiculous outfits, bumbling villains, and Samuel L. Jackson playing a house slave who likes saying a particular swearword a lot.
My only complaint about this film is that the plot feels kind of choppy. Django Unchained is an unusual Tarantino film, as the events in the film actually proceed chronologically. The movie’s plot is extremely simple and powerful as it follows a man who is willing to go to any lengths to save his wife. However, the transition from the Wild West to the Deep South feels a little bumpy, and there are occasional extraneous scenes that I feel could have been eliminated to reduce the two hour and 45 minute runtime. Overall, Django Unchained is another tour de force by Tarantino that will both disturb and entertain moviegoers.