In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The instant I started watching it again for this review, I was immediately caught up in just as much as the first time around.”
“Kill white people and get paid for it? What’s not to like?”
While I consider myself a Quentin Tarantino fan, I definitely like his old stuff better than his new stuff. I’ve seen Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown plenty of times, and I assume I’ll see them plenty more. Whereas his work after those are movies I tend to really enjoy at the time, but their impact is fast fading. Which was my initial reaction to his latest, The Hateful Eight. But this time, the impact of The Hateful Eight hasn’t faded. I still find myself thinking about it, a lot. Which then lead me to thinking that even though I have liked his last few movies, I may have been a little dismissive of them as well. Which is why I decided to re watch Django Unchained.
Two years before the American Civil War, a band of slaves are being dragged through the cold night when their masters are stopped by a suave, German dentist (Christoph Waltz as Dr King Schultz). No longer practicing dentistry, Schultz now makes his living as a bounty hunter, and he needs a slave who can identify his latest prey. One speaks up, claiming he can, so Schultz dispatches the slave traders and departs with the helpful slave, who he makes a free man, Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx).
After helping Schultz successfully identify and take down the outlaw Brittle Brothers, Schultz takes Django under his wing, and they spend the winter bonding over a montage of training in the art of bounty hunting. By the time they come down out of the mountains for spring, they’re cashed up and more or less working as equal partners and friends. Friends enough for Schultz to help Django track down his wife (Kerry Washington as Broomhilda). Which leads to the plantation of slave owning Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), compete with his Uncle Tom head slave, Stephen (Samuel L Jackson).
I’ll get the bad out of the way first, because there’s not very much of it, so it won’t take long. Django Unchained is way too long. At two hours and 40 odd minutes, it really is bloated and in need of a trim. That’s not to say it’s ever boring, it’s just over stuffed. I think Tarantino just had too many ideas for cool visuals, great action set pieces and fantastic dialogue. And instead of killing a few of his darlings, he crammed them all in, whether they served the story or not.
Now, for the good. All of those visuals are really cool, all of those set pieces are really great, and all of the dialogue is really fantastic. So while I sometimes found myself checking my watch, or the Netflix timeline to see how much of the movie was left, I way more often found myself simply enjoying the spectacle and expert film making on offer.
Which on the one hand supports my opinion that a lot of latter day Tarantino is about immediate payoffs and cheap thrills. But even though I hadn’t thought much about Django Unchained in the last few years, the instant I started watching it again for this review, I was immediately caught up in just as much as the first time around.