Django Unchained may be receiving attention for its excessive use of the N-Word, and the body count in this Quentin Tarantino thriller may be as high as anything the director has ever helmed, but neither of those issues gets to the heart of the film:
Two men, one friendship and the way Christoph Waltz was pretty much born to recite words written by Tarantino.
Waltz portrays Dr. King Shulz, essentially the same character that earned him an Oscar in Inglourious Basterds. He's a loquacious, laid back killer who smiles through the most tense situations.
Tarantino penned the part for Waltz, and the best parts of the 166-minute movie feature Shulz simply talking: to residents of a town after he kills their sheriff; to Foxx's slave-turned-bounty-hunter, Django; to Leonardo DiCaprio's evil plantation owner.
Waltz brings Tarantino terrific dialogue to entertaining life.
And Foxx is also strong, evolving from a quiet slave to "the fastest draw in the South," obliterating foes along the way and tracking down his wife (Kerry Washington), who has been purchased by DiCaprio's Calvin Candle.
The movie is Tarantino through and through, from the unusual combination of history and absurdity... to the drawn out scenes (one involving a group of white men complaining about the holes in their KKK-like hoods)... to his need to violently murder almost everyone on screen.
Due to the latter point, the film is about 30 minutes too long.
Without giving anything away, it easily could have ended around the time of a certain handshake, but Tarantino just can't resist. He had to up the body count, he had to use up all his red dye budget.
Indeed, the closing handful of scenes are cartoon-like in their violence. They're just examples of Tarantino having fun with fake bullets and slow motion and shredded corpses. But these aren't the difficult ones to watch.
There's one moment where a man is torn apart by dogs that even Michael Vick from a few years ago would have trouble watching.
Overall? Django Unchained is exactly what anyone familiar with Tarantino's work would expect. It may push the boundaries of good taste at times, and it definitely runs longer than necessary, but it's a fun two-plus hours. You're in for impressive visuals, unique characters and a series of fantastic exchanges between great actors.
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