Ty Burr: 8. “Django Unchained”
One of Quentin Tarantino’s very best movies couldn’t have come along at a worse time: It’s bullet-riddled and shamelessly violent. But there are two kinds of mayhem in this unexpectedly nuanced entertainment. The kind visited by the freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) and his bounty-hunter partner (a hilarious Christoph Waltz) upon the slave traders and Big Daddys of the pre-Civil War South is cartoonish and gleeful: classic bad-boy Quentin. The violence we see doled out to the slaves brings us up short and jams the laughter in our throats. One wrong move and Tarantino could have made an unforgivable Mel Brooks movie, but he doesn’t make a wrong move, and neither do Foxx, Waltz, or Leonardo DiCaprio as the film’s grinning villain. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s the first Tarantino movie with a conscience.