Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

March 22, 2013

Unchained melody

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:40 pm

March 22, 2013

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L Jackson

Director: Quentin Tarantino

You don’t complain about excessive violence if you’ve chosen to watch a Quentin Tarantino film. But in Django Unchained, his homage to spaghetti westerns set in the pre-Civil War era of black slaves and ruthless white oppressors, the celebrated filmmaker invites us to witness such an orgy of brutality and bloodshed that you have to ask if the film is attacking cruelty or reveling in it.

Even as you debate that point, it’s impossible to deny that there’s a lot to admire in this stylish revenge fantasy that’s peppered with the kind of unforgettable touches only Tarantino could get away with. But alas, the man wants to squeeze in every idea he has, no matter how it all fits together…and as a result, the film’s close-to-three-hours running time often feels like a slog.

Jamie Foxx is Django, a shackled slave, whose encounter with eccentric German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) sets the film’s plot into motion. Freeing Django from a chain gang, Schultz recruits him to identify three outlaws. Pretty soon the two men become partners, cleaning the land of lawbreakers through some pretty violent means. Schultz then promises to lead Django to his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and help him rescue her from the clutches of sadistic slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

The first thing to notice is that Tarantino hasn’t tired of his love for pithy dialogue, the bulk of which go to Christoph Waltz, who uses it to construct another deliciously menacing character after that monstrous Nazi, Col Hans Landa, in Inglourious Basterds. Leonardo DiCaprio, too, appears to be having a blast, playing the racist villain of the piece, complete with moustache-twirling glee. The real surprise, however, is delivered by a near-unrecognizable Samuel L Jackson who shows up in the small but memorable part of Candie’s creepy man-servant.

There are some terrific moments of inspired humor, like a scene in which the Ku Klux Klan gets into an argument over the size of the eyeholes in their hoods. The film is dazzlingly shot and is set to a terrific score, but as it approaches the three-hour mark, its indulgences begin to show. Just when you think the film has come to an end after a gruesome confrontation in the final act, the story rambles on for another 20 minutes only to culminate in another even more blood-splattered face-off that you leaves you feeling exhausted.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Like his previous films, this isn’t for the faint hearted. Die-hard fans, meanwhile, will likely forgive its shortcomings.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. Loved the movie. exceeded my expectations. the only problem with your review is that you didnt speak at all about the django man himself Jamie Foxx. lol

    Comment by Bharat — March 22, 2013 @ 10:47 pm


    Comment by SASI — March 23, 2013 @ 12:34 am

  3. Tarantino’s screenplays are a treat for any movie buff. I hardly have complaints for his movies. Leo & Waltz is such a deadly combo. can’t wait for tmrw.

    Comment by Shankz — March 23, 2013 @ 12:40 am

  4. Tarantino’s movies r kick-ass stuff..proved again..terrific score, brilliant performances by every1..however d movie was stretched by 15 min…still a must watch

    Comment by Shankz — March 23, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

  5. Samuel L. Jackson’s part is quite underrated..he delivers one of his best so far..by playing a character older than his age and crippling on a stick..hands shaking. That guy is awesome. Period.

    Comment by Prashant K — March 24, 2013 @ 12:17 am

  6. D’jango unchained was tad too long. The only good thing about the movie is Christopher Waltz. Impeccable performance!

    Comment by karan bhatt — March 24, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

  7. Django unchained is cinema at the fullest and uninhibbited in its desription of the american idolatory ;Christropher waltz is the mule who carried the film on its back top drama action and a pinch of everything that stands against holy white imperialism .The story amidst all the grandeur of gory bloodshed treats audience with its layers of political abyss and gothic story line…..

    Comment by Pushan — March 25, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

  8. Dear Rajeev,

    DU, was set up in Antebellum Era, Just before the civil war in US. At that time the cruelty against slaves was at its peak. So, violence was justified. QT, showed exactly how slaves were treated at that time.

    Comment by Mohit — March 25, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

  9. Sir,

    Three and a half stars for DU, in my opinion is less seeing that you gave Zero Dark Thirty 4 stars. The style in which QT has both written and picturised a topic like ‘slavery’ is marvelous. The best part of his direction is the music and the soundtrack he picked for the movie. It isnt your conventional orchestra up-liftment music but rather….rap songs!! But the soul of the movie is the cast. Jamie, DICaprio, Christoph, Samuel, all of them were terrific. Specially the scene in the local village bar where Christoph kills the Sheriffs and then asks Marshall for $200 is delicious

    Comment by Varun Charan — March 29, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

  10. ”the bad MF”again stole the show just as he did in pulp fiction….hats off to samuel jackson…

    Comment by shrish — March 30, 2013 @ 12:56 am

  11. dude you just shouldn’t point out mistakes of any Quentin Tarantino film, because the mistakes that you feel are in the movie are deliberately made by the man himself….He’s so intelligent intelligent that he’s action are unquestionable…so zip it

    Comment by tejas — March 30, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

  12. rajeev, i like your reviews but i think u got it wrong for dis movie. Tarantino has taken a very sensitive topic of racism and has made a brilliant entertainer. The movie deserves above 4 rating for its excellent cast, background score and dialgoues considering in comparison with your rating standards for any damn movie of shahrukh khan where u give nothing less than 3..

    Comment by kapil — April 10, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

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