Inglourious Basterds starts off feeling like a western, but with Jewish U.S. soldiers and nazis. This time the story is one you wish really happened but in reality it’s Quentin Tarantino’s version of the ending of WWII. In Tarantino’s tale, a special unit of guerrilla soldiers (led by Brad Pitt) is in a collision course with a theater owner who are both hell bent on the same task – killing the entire German high command along with Hitler himself during a film premier. The theater owner happens to be the sole survivor of an attack on her family committed by Col. Hans Landa of the SS, who works out to be the person in charge of security at the event. The build up is great as is the pay off…
The pacing is as you’d expect from a Tarantino movie, it ebbs and flows between scenes of extreme violence and extensive dialog. The dialog really didn’t drag for me like it does sometimes in some of his other pieces (Jackie Brown and Death Proof both had some pacing issues I thought), the lines written and delivered kept things moving while filling in a lot about the characters. I thought Hans Landa (played by the excellent Christoph Waltz) and Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine were especially well written. Landa was unnerving while being simultaneously disarming somehow which made him all the more dangerous. Raine is equally as brutal as Landa but in a Tennessee-awwww-shucks kind of way while carving swatikas into nazi foreheads.
The actors are truly entertaining to watch, especially Pitt and Waltz. Waltz is really fascinating in how he delivers his lines; smooth, eloquent, intelligent, and ruthless. Pitt does some great character work too channelling his inner redneck. BJ Novak from The Office fame shows up as a Basterd and fits the role he plays nicely. Melanie Laurent as the theater owner Shosanna is passionate and tragic, convincingly so. The only odd ball in the lineup was Mike Myers. Yes, Mike Myers of Wayne’s World and the Austin Powers films. Myers is playing a British officer and comes off to me like him playing a character rather than a real character, it was a distraction having him in that part. Otherwise, the rest of the cast is excellent and includes: Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, Til Schweiger, Eli Roth, and Daniel Bruhl.
The directing is as tight as the script. Interestingly the film was directed by Quentin Tarantino with an assist from Eli Roth on the “Nations Pride” segment. This has Tarantino’s touch all over it from the music choices, to the long dialog scenes, to the closeups he likes. He still borrows from Scorcese a lot but hey, it works. The color palette is rich as is the design of the sets, costumes, props and every detail that made the film feel like an authentic (albeit still stylized) presentation of the 1940’s.
I enjoyed this one and will probably watch it again.
reviewed by Sean McKnight