Words Will Lawrence and Josh Woodfin
Brad Pitt (hairy-lipped), Mélanie Laurent (clean-lipped), Diane Kruger (lippy), Michael Fassbender (chippy)
What’s it about?
Quentin Tarantino goes to war with this bruising tale of Jewish revenge. Led by the moustached Pitt, the ‘Basterds’ are a gang of American WWII soldiers dropped behind enemy lines in occupied France and charged with terrorising and torturing the Kraut invaders. Meanwhile, in Paris, a Jewish cinema owner (Laurent) bids to take out Hitler and his chief minions by burning down her theatre when the Third Reich’s top brass are all inside.
What’s good about it?
QT’s bullet-speed banter is back (although without the modern pop references, obviously), firing out a hail of comedy moments, with rat-a-tat regularity. The opening act feels like a spaghetti western, as we’re introduced to the film’s star man, Nazi officer and ace ‘Jew hunter’ Landa (Christoph Waltz’s scene-stealing moments are brimming with malice and ominous humour), before picking up pace as a war flick with the unleashing of the Basterds, a brutal Dirty Dozen who carve swastikas onto the faces of their foes. The director’s signature flourishes – close-ups of female feet, biting barroom banter and the Mexican stand-off – all get a fresh and funny update. The soundtrack’s decent, too.
What’s bad about it?
The maverick moviemaker has tampered with history itself, particularly the film’s bloody conclusion, which will leave hardcore history-loving types scratching their heads. Also, given his star-billing and some excellent moments, Pitt seems somewhat underused.
After the disappointment of the deathly dull Death Proof and the slick but empty overkill of the Kill Bill movies, QT is rediscovering his form: Basterds is a tense, punchy and darkly funny film.