Movie fans have had to listen to Quentin Tarantino talk about INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS for over ten years now. He’d drop little hints here and there and get fanboys salivating at the thought of QT taking on WWII and infusing it with his patented hip dialogue and over the top violence that have run rampant in all of his previous movies. But after years of hearing about it, some of us began wondering if it would ever see the light of day, or if it would join the list of could-have-been movies (still waiting for that Vega Brothers movie) from the Master of Cool. So the question is; is this film worth the ten+ year wait? Well, if the smile on my face that stretches from ear to ear is any indication, yes.
The opening scene features an intense dialogue exchange between a French farmer and the notorious “Jew Hunter” (Christoph Waltz). You can tell this is a Tarantino movie from the very first shot, but it isn’t until Brad Pitt, as Lt. Aldo Raine, gives his speech to his recruits that you know you’re in for one helluva ride. What transcribes from that point forward is nothing short of a spectacle and despite a 2.5 hour runtime; you’ll leave the theater wanting more. It’s a testament to the greatness of Tarantino that he can make such a film and still not meet the demand for his work.
The story is simple enough, Lt. Raine is the leader of a group of Jewish-American soldiers, dubbed “Basterds” that are in Nazi occupied France picking off as many Nazi’s as they can. Congruently, Shosanna Dreyfuss (Melanie Laurent, in a star-making performance) is the only surviving member of a Jewish family that was hunted down by Col. Landa, the aforementioned “Jew Hunter”. She currently operates a movie theater and through a chance encounter with a war hero, is now hosting the premiere of the latest German film. That premiere will host all of the highest ranking German officers and let’s just say Shosanna has other plans for them. Of course, the Basterds find out about the premiere and they have plans of their own.
Even though I don’t really think there are any “surprises” in the film, it’s told in a manner that each segment kind of has its own surprise ending, which make the movie that much better. It is told in segments, which works for Tarantino films more than it works for other directors. QT gets credit for a lot of things, but one aspect of filmmaking he has mastered is pacing. With Basterds, we never get sick of any one segment and therefore, the violence, the dialogue, the intensity; are all used to a perfect degree and at precise intervals.
Once Tarantino was done with the script, it went from finished script to a complete movie in lightning fast time. That had me worried the film would seem unfinished, but it’s quite the contrary. It’s safe to say that Tarantino spent that ten+ years perfecting exactly what he wanted the film to be and the result is one of, if not the, coolest and most enjoyable films we’ve seen in years. I can honestly say that the only entity that will not like this film is your spellchecker.