So about now I’m supposed to begin waxing lyrical about how Quentin Tarantino has done it again with Django Unchained. I’m meant to say things like ‘brilliant’ and ‘can this man do no wrong’ or perhaps ‘a masterpiece of cinema’. I’m meant to say those things and I really, really, really wish I was…but I’m not.
Let me start with the first thing, this film is two hours and 45 minutes long. Let me just say that again, this film is nearly three hours long and boy does it feel like it. I never, the thought never entered my mind, thought I’d use the word ‘bored’ when talking about a Tarantino film but that’s what I was.
I wasn’t gripped, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat waiting for the next thing to happen or wondering what would happen again. In fact I was just slumped in my seat wishing it would get a move on.
The movie sees Christoph Waltz, a bounty hunter posing as a dentist, pick up Jamie Foxx, a slave, and free him to make him work for him. Once they’ve worked together for a while they set about finding and freeing Foxx’s wife who’s on a plantation owned by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Timing wise you can look at the film in a Full Metal Jacket style, early doors it’s all about setting the scene, training, then them putting the training in action and then the final big battle. The issue is the whole movie has this strange look and feel about it that I couldn’t shake. It reminded me of a stage play.
The film doesn’t really start to get going until DiCaprio and his slave Samuel L. Jackson enter stage left, sorry, enter the film. The performances of both these actors is magnificent and I’m not really a DiCaprio fan. He is intense and gives the performance an unnerving feel whilst Jackson is perfect as the black slave runner who’s both master and slave.
What the film lacks is what we’ve come to expect from a Tarantino film. Where’s the smart dialogue? Where’s the innovative camera shots? Where’s the key scene that makes you say ‘wow’ and people will be repeating for years to come? I don’t know but I didn’t see them.
What I did see was a hell of a lot of errors, such as beer pumps (or beer taps if you’re American) but these weren’t invented in 1858 when the movie is supposed to be set, in fact a lot of the things in the film weren’t invented in 1858. I also saw a ton of blood and guts, which doesn’t bother me, but it did just start to feel a bit silly, it was just a bit much.
Then there’s a scene towards the end where Foxx is killing people, of course, and shoots a woman with a pistol whilst stood at the top of the stairs. The woman is stood in a doorway below him, standing side on. He shoots her and she suddenly shoots backwards, not to the side which is where she’s just been shot, backwards like she’s, oh I don’t know, being pulled by a wire maybe.
And that final scene? I mean seriously? What the hell? Just…I mean…I was lost for words. I thought I was watching a blooper reel or some kind of ‘show off’ reel at the end. Foxx starts doing ‘tricks’ on his horse like dressage? It just, I mean, what the fuck?
I know it’s uncool to say, I know a lot of people won’t be happy, but I just didn’t dig this film. I wanted to, I really wanted to, but sometimes you just can’t force these things, perhaps I’m not the only one who should have thought that.