Review: ‘Django Unchained’ (Western Tarantino Style)

After taking on crime drama, pulp novelization, blaxploitation, samurai swordplay, grindhouse, and even war films, Quentin Tarantino set his sights on another classic genre to give it his unique sense of spin: the Western.

Just before the American Civil War, former dentist Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz) acquires the assistance of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx). The deal is simple: if Django can identify three men on the run from the law, he will be set free upon their death or capture and a few dollars in his pocket. As it turns out, however, Django has a natural skill for bounty hunting. After the two become good friends, Dr. Shultz agrees to help Django find and free his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), but to do so, they’ll have to spirit her away from a ruthless plantation owner named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Southerner who does not like to lose.

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino has never shied away from controversial subject matter. In fact, he seems to seek it out, intent in making films however he sees fit and to provoke a reaction that “safe” filmmakers actively avoid. Django is a buddy flick and revenge film driven by love and fueled by farce, a dangerous mix that proves entertaining all the way around. As usual, it’s a character piece, but that doesn’t mean the plot doesn’t have its twists and turns. After deadly serious films like Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds, there is an underlying silliness to Django that threatens to undermine the entire film but happily never derails it.

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