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Django Unchained (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 165 minutes

Not for children.

Why Jamie Foxx is listed as the "star" of this film and Christoph Waltz is a  "supporting" actor is a mystery. The movie is carried by Waltz; he gives by far the best performance; without him there would be no film worth seeing. Not only did writer-director Quentin Tarantino write the role specifically for Waltz, he wrote some of it in Waltz's presence. He is in almost as many scenes as Foxx. All Foxx does is act angry throughout. Not to deprecate that, because Foxx gives a good performance, and he does what is required of him by the role, but it is something that just about any actor could accomplish. Even though both are Oscar®-winners, only Waltz gives an Oscar®-quality performance here. In that, he is joined by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Dr. King Schulz (Waltz), a bounty hunter, violently recruits Django (Foxx), a slave chained to other slaves, to help him track down two wanted criminals. In the process he befriends and partners with Django and becomes a co-conspirator with him to help him find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who is a slave at Candyland, an infamous plantation owned by Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), with his slave overseer, Stephen (Samuel L Jackson).

165 minutes might seem like a long time to sit through this rather simple tale. But the performance given by Waltz is so captivating, Tarantino's script so well written, and his direction well-paced, that the time flies by.

Unfortunately, the film is marred by a ridiculous Republic pictures – style shootout at the end where thousands of bullets are shot at one of the characters with nary a one findings its target while that character, using only handheld six shooters, kills dozens of his attackers. While the entire movie is a cartoon of a story, a shoot-out like this is unnecessary. But this is, after all, Quentin Tarantino, and he must get his gore on film. Fortunately, it's not quite as graphic as in some of his past pictures, but there is a lot of blood spilled.

Even so, due to Waltz and Tarantino, this is one of the more entertaining films of the year. I hated to see it end.

December 18, 2012