"Django Unchained", director Quentin Tarantino's latest film, is also his second attempt at "B" movie historical revisionism. As opposed to Inglourious Basterds however, this time it works.
Christoph Waltz, plays yet another German (he was the lead nazi in Inglourious Basterds) who this time takes the side of the oppressed, rather than the oppressor (this doesn't mean he's any less violent or murderous). He buys a slave by the name of Django (Jamie Foxx), in order to acquire some information about his former slave masters who are wanted for a bounty (he's a bounty hunter). If Django helps him, he will be given his freedom. Django decides he wants to learn the bounty hunter trade and proves he has a knack for it. Django's ultimate goal is to get the freedom of his wife (Kerry Washington), who is owned by Mr. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) of the "Candieland" plantation. Mr. Candie is a fan of Mandingo fighting (pitting two slaves against one another in a fight to the death), and the two bounty hunters use this as a subterfuge in order to gain his confidence. It's an elaborate con that may cost more than just money.
Django Unchained feels like another attempt at the same themes Inglourious Basterds covered. There's the exploitative violence angle, the historical revisionism angle, the revenge as fun angle. But where Basterds came up short in those departments, Django succeeds. In my original review, I complained about Inglourious Basterd's lack of perspective. Instead of showing the nazis committing atrocities, it showed the heroes committing atrocities and told us to side with them. It's not enough to slap a swastika on a person and beat them to death with a baseball bat, you have to show us the reasons too, regardless if they're a historical fact or not. Django gives us the proper build up of outrage and catharsis, injustice and revenge, rage and release. Even if the stalemate feels a bit forced, it's still creating a genuine dynamic tension, something miles above what was found in the nazi revenge fantasy. Christoph Waltz, the best thing about that movie, delivers an equally compelling performance here in Django, and DiCaprio and Foxx eat up the scenary with equal flair. Samuel L. Jackson almost steals the movie as the bitter old Stephen, and Don Johnson is great as a Kentucky fried Colonel who bites off a little more than he can chew. It's probably a little more fun than a movie about slavery has a right to be, but it's the 21rst century, and this is Quentin Tarantino afterall. If you're still shocked by Tarantino's perpetual adolescence, then you haven't been watching him the last 20 years. The guy's still got it though. This is a great movie.