Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” may not be the newest title on the docket, but it is still a breath of cinematic fresh air. A rather bloody, stomach-churning breath, but a fresh one all the same. 

Jamie Foxx stars as the titular hero Django, a slave who has been callously separated from his beloved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), just years before the start of the Civil War. Django’s fate begins to turn around when the relatively liberal-minded German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) seeks out Django’s help in tracking down some villainous targets.

Through this mission, the two form a kinship of sorts (you know, the kind in that gray area between indentured servitude and full-blown enslavement). In part because Broomhilda is, conveniently enough, one of the only American slaves in history who speaks German, Schultz sympathizes with Django’s tragic story and offers to help him rescue Broomhilda. Thus, the two unlikely companions embark on a journey full of Western-style shootouts, twisted Tarantino comedy, and a satisfying succession of bad guys getting their comeuppance.

Firstly, to all of you who have overheard me humming about “looking for freedom” all week, I want to praise “Django” for a soundtrack that makes you feel pretty cool just listening to it.

You can’t have a review of “Django” without acknowledging that, as one can only expect from a Tarantino film, “Django” is ultra-violent and graphic. For me, it was not the outlandish scenes of guts flying and heads exploding—of which there were plenty—that were hard to watch, but rather the plethora of cruel and unusual torture techniques.

In Tarantino’s defense, these torture scenes are not wholly gratuitous. Each scene plays a vital role in developing the plot. For instance—without giving away too much—I will say that a particularly sickening scene involving hound dogs ripping a man apart precipitates perhaps the most poignant character development in the film. The graphic nature of this scene is necessary to evoke in its audience just a fraction of the actual experience of witnessing something so horrific.

Regardless, the film’s violence is offset by one of the most sharp and engaging scripts I’ve run into in a while—one that deservedly won the Oscar for best original screenplay. In classic Tarantino style, the dialogue is largely elaborate and drawn-out, which is only acceptable when you genuinely don’t know what the person will say next—a feat that Tarantino deftly achieves to build tension and suspense.

The source of much of this exceptional dialogue is Christoph Waltz—the highlight of the film. Waltz, too, rightly won the Oscar for his performance as the immensely likeable, quick-tongued Dr. King Schultz, who is as much (if not more) of a hero as Django himself. Waltz is pretty much the only speaking character in the film’s first 30 minutes, a grueling task that he passes with flying colors. In fact, his impeccable wit and gratifyingly cool demeanor single-handedly make the film’s first act the most gripping of the film.

Many have applauded Leonardo DiCaprio for his over-the-top portrayal of Calvin Candie, the notorious plantation owner and aficionado in the (apparently fictionalized) phenomenon of mandingo fighting, in which two slaves beat each other to death for the entertainment of their masters.

I found DiCaprio to be a distracting presence, whose exaggerated mannerisms and speech felt like an imitation of Tarantino himself. And for the record, this is coming from someone whose 8-year-old self was in a committed relationship with a life-sized drawing of Leo on my best friend’s bedroom door.

Still, my ex-lover’s ostentatious performance only detracted slightly from my overall enjoyment of the film. Tarantino’s films are inflammatory; there’s just no denying it. His style is the definition of love-it-or-hate-it.

Personally, I think Tarantino might be a lunatic. And I really like him. His movies are unpredictable, unapologetic, and untamed. The fact that Tarantino thinks through every aspect of his films comes through as polished, cohesive, intentionality in his final product. I’d take a provocative Tarantino creation over yet another “Die Hard” any day.