This is Quentin Tarantino’s film about Nazi hunters. That should already have conjured up some sort of mental bonfire, and in fairness, it’s probably pretty accurate. The only preparation you have to make before watching is to suspend your beliefs, your concepts of reality, your sensibility – entirely. Otherwise, this will rub you right up the wrong end.
In short, Brad Pitt and his league of ‘basterds’ are a rag-tag mob of mainly Jewish Nazi hunters – who seek to kill, and scalp (eesh), members of the German army and the SS. The other main character is that of a determined young woman who escaped from the clutches of the magnificently treacherous Christoph Waltz’s ‘Jew Hunter’ as a child. She moonlights four years on as a cinema hostess and finds that the Nazis plan to premiere their latest propaganda there – and, of course, she sees this as an ideal chance to knacker up the Gerries and take out the four heads of the party.
Essentially, this is a revenge story. It’s interestingly split up into ‘chapters’ to allow us to get familiar with each party of characters en route to a spectacular climax – and despite what you might expect, for the most part, the drama is silently brooding, tense and understated, as characters try to double-bluff and subterfuge their way through the film. A lot end up dead. Obviously. There’s actually less violence than the BBFC would have you believe – with far, far more plotting, stale mating and secret talking. For me, this is a great thing. The vast majority of the film plays out like a stage play, with the bloody action creeping in to finish each act. It’s cunningly directed. And the last ten minutes are wonderful. This is a revenge story to end all – and it’s built up to such a head that the climax is, while as violent as hell, awesomely joyous.
My only gripe is that this is a reeeeal looooong slog. At two hours and twenty-seven minutes, it’s at least 45 mins too long. The drawn-out silences and tense ‘stage moments’ are chiefly to blame for this. It’s mostly necessary – but it detracts from the focus a little bit. People expecting Nazis being kicked about every two minutes may be a bit disappointed – but it’s worth hanging on. It really is.
PROS: Tense, uniquely and well-structured, flawless actors, brilliantly over the top. Plus, Nazis get what’s coming to ’em.
CONS: Too long. Possibly mis-marketed as an all-out action thriller.
9/10 – Very, very entertaining. And this is coming from someone who can’t stomach scalping. My review of ‘The Thing’ may just consist of photos of what I’ve vomited after watching it.
Oh! And we’re at the 10% mark on the 250 Movie Mission. Time to get a spurt on, I reckon. Up next – ‘Joy Division’, a bumload of zombies, and a shapeshifting visceral mess. Stay tuned…