It’s understandable why losing Will Smith for the role would disappoint. He’s got star power. But Smith is Smith—you see a Will Smith movie to see Will Smith doing his Will Smith thing. When you see a Tarantino movie, you want to see some stylistically unwavering Quentin Tarantino magic. You want actors who can fall naturally into a world where people speak in verse and discuss hamburgers at length.
And that’s why Jamie Foxx—a cinematic chameleon—will be far superior as the titular character. Foxx has thrilled us dramatically, comedically, stealthfully, collaterally and soloistically. And he won’t disappoint as Django: a liberated slave who, along with German bounty hunter Christoph Waltz (I’m totally fine with seeing him again), sets out to rescue his wife from the slave-owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio, in a rare villainous role).
In keeping with a Tarantino’s haunting perspective of reality, Candie will operate “Candyland,” a plantation and club that exploits the female slaves sexually and the male for the bloodlust of Candie’s patrons. Samuel L. Jackson will play DiCaprio’s valet and right-hand man.
There is no bad news for this movie. A bad-guy DiCaprio. A rebirth of Hans Landa. The scene-shattering Samuel L. Jackson. And Jamie Foxx doing his Jamie Foxx thing: just acting — really, really well.