Director Quentin Tarantino’s movie, his best in almost two decades, is nearly flawless. It’s an energetic and violent, though never gratuitous, film and one is hard-pressed to find something to criticize.
Inglourious Basterds – yes, the misspellings are intended – is the story intersecting groups of characters in the midst of World War II. The most important – the titular Basterds – are a pack of Jewish-American soldiers dispatched in order to wreak havoc on the Nazis. Their leader is Brad Pitt, sporting his best Appalachian accent, who demands 100 Nazi scalps from each of his Basterds.
Pitt may be the only “name” actor, but the real breakout star is Christoph Waltz, whose portrayal of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa is full of subtle menace and an almost deceptive venom. His win for best actor at the Cannes Film Festival was wholeheartedly deserved, and when his star inevitably rises after this film, it will be well worth it.
In fact, there are no weak links in the cast. Everyone from director Eli Roth to Michael Fassbender and Mélanie Laurent is uniformly strong, a rarity in such a large ensemble film. Tarantino keeps the film – which clocks in at nearly two and a half hours – moving quickly and violently, and it drags only rarely.
Inglourious Basterds is what 2008’s Defiance should have been: an exciting, quick-moving portrayal of Jews kicking some Nazi ass that is actually worth the audience’s time.
Rating: 4/4 stars
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
MPAA Rating: R