For his fans and haters alike, Tarantino's latest has been a long time coming. 3 years have rolled by since his first serious attempt at a historical piece - Inglorious Basterds - but finally, like a lone gun slinger riding into town, his Django Unchained is tying itself up to the local cinemas hitching post.
And then letting loose in a total bloodbath accompanied by colourful language galore! Yes, this maybe be set in 1858, but this is still a film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.
This means that you should expect sass, crass and along with the depicted violence as displayed in his Inglorious Basterds (this is a long way from the cut away techniques of the debut Reservoir Dogs), a inordinate amount of the "n" word.
However, this being Quentin's work, you also get some incredibly quotable lines - "who dat nigger on dat nag?!?" and "you have my curiosity, now you have my attention," - along with his knack for pulling out great performances and pulling out and dusting off performers that have seen better days. Those of you old enough to remember the like of Miami Vice and The Dukes Of Hazzard will delight in some small but significant roles whilst those who watched LOST and Dexter will also be treated to a few smiles. Of course though, these are only side dishes to the main 3 course meal that is served up throughout the films 165 minute running time - Foxx, DiCaprio and Waltz.
These 3 are able to deliver exactly what you would want, and expect, from people of their current reputation - performances that equally make you smile, laugh, wince and ultimately remember why they were cast. The weakest out of the 3 strangely is the films supposed lead Foxx, but this may be down to the simple fact that his is the least "showy" out of them. DiCaprio gets to be the Joe Pesci character - all smooth gears then a burst of terrifying speed and uncontrolableness from out of nowhere. Whilst Waltz is the George Clooney of the operation - all smiles, charm and charisma while the mind is working out the angles and options. Foxx has to make do with the Michael Batman Keaton role to the other two - necessary but sometimes sidelined when they are stealing the limelight... which happens often!
The two biggest surprises of Django Unchained lie in a performance and in its structure. For the first time I can recall, you actually want Samuel L. Jackson to die. And horibbly at that too! His head slave Stephen (yay!) is the biggest, and loudest, back stabber of recent cinematic memory and only just falls short of a "Boo! Hiss!" panto villain. Despite the short temper and burning desire for revenge of Django, it is infact Stephen's desire to see continuity and tradition continue to take place in Candy Land where he has a role of authority, that sees the plan hatched by Waltz's German bounty hunter head further South than they already are.
The second surprise sees Tarantino ditch his non-linear timeline approach and just tell the story in a straight forward beginning, middle and end fashion. Yes, there is a flashback or two, but gone is the cross-over, skipping stylus-on-a-scratched-record method of plotting. This change of editing and style allows you to sit back and relax a tad more, letting the characters and their interactions sink into you further instead of you facing the possible distraction of trying to place all the events in the right time line for you to understand the proceedings better.
As funny as you would hope it would be, alot of the humour (and the very bloody violence) centers around the racism and more specifically the people that practised it, that was in over-abundance back then. The sequence involving the KKK and their desire to hang both Foxx and Waltz is genuinely laugh out loud and upon reflection would easily sit more comfortably in a Farrelly Brothers movie than in a Tarantino one. For those of you who are squeamish or prone to being offended, take note - Django Unchained makes full use of its 18 certificate... when people die here, they die in a spectacularly bloody fashion!
With its Kill Bill Vol 1-esque ending (think the Crazy 88, but Old West style) this sees the disappointing likes of Death Proof left behind and a return to the form that made the video shop employee become a force to be reckoned with and watched within Hollywood. Yee Haw!
UK release date: 18.01.13