Django Unchained just starts, and goes on until it just ends. Quentin Tarantino has been lauded for simultaneously juggling several narrative threads throughout his films; here, he untangles each thread and tells a straightforward story in a straightforward way. Events line up in an orderly fashion, and not one dares raise its head until Tarantino has dusted off the last. You'll think you're on the road to one destination, until you're on the road to another, then another, then another etc. QT isn't famed for grace as a filmmaker; Django is his most graceless film. As the plot meanders from one objective to the next, gratification is derived from a peppy script (perhaps his funniest) and a variety of perfectly-pitched performances. Christoph Waltz is a standout (so, too, is his horse Fritz), Jamie Foxx is highly expressive in a role without a lot of dialogue, Kerry Washington doesn't have much to do, but does it all with gusto, and Samuel L. Jackson shows what he's capable of when not asked to merely play himself again. Leonardo DiCaprio is lumbered with a character Tarantino doesn't fully understand, and so doesn't know how to write, although DiCaprio is as much to blame, approaching it like an arrogant drama student, all saunter and swag, with a heinous accent. By this stage, though, the film has already begun to wind down, and the ensuing second half feels like half an hour stretched out for no better purpose than to show off (something I imagine Sally Menke might have sorted out). The flashes of brilliance remain, occurring here and there, and a few comedic jaunts, and a few very bloody ones, enliven affairs to an extent. But there's a shorter, more cohesive film among the mess - an entertaining mess, certainly, but still a mess.