A quirky film with signature Tarantino plastered all over it. It is quirky, irreverent, absolutely non-formulaic, action packed both in terms of dialogue and actual physical action. And it takes a fictional look at World War II, a view that is sardonic, funny, taut and serious all at the same time. It takes a very talented person to make a scene seem all four at the same time. And by god, it has been pulled off.
The title takes its name from a group of Jewish-American guerrilla group that forms to give the Nazis a taste of their own medicine (entirely fictional of course). Except as we see, they become not much different from the Nazis themselves. When the baseball bat swings and smashes the skull of the Nazi officer kneeling, you are jolted into realization that the Allies were about as brutal as the frequently excoriated Nazis (for those who need facts to back this up – look up Dresden bombing). Especially when the Nazi officer refused to betray his comrades and replied a few seconds earlier to the question asked as to his reason for getting the Knight’s cross – “For Bravery”. And the next thing you know is the Allied soldier killing a kneeling unarmed man. It can present quite a paradigm shift.
The movie progresses via ‘chapters’, which take up different threads of the main story at different points of time, with the final chapter typing up all the stories. Much of the stories are made up of extended dialogues, the tautness of which never flags, even when the conversation is between just two people for over 15 minutes. The camera work and a sense of danger and possibility of sudden violence keeps you on the edge. The German officer Hand Landa played by Christoph Waltz is both terrifying and charming to a high degree (and his presence overshadows everyone else, including Brad Pitt). His conversations with different people in the movie are truly memorable for their undertone of menace.
The setting, the story, the premise is highly fictional of course. This is no history lesson by a long shot. But you don’t go into this movie thinking of military logic. Nazis could not have been vanquished as stupidly as shown here (the climax though is a bit too much to take and for me, did take away some of the quality of the movie). But then, this is supposed to be a movie that you go along with the flow and enjoy the action unfolding on the screen.
It’s a hell of a ride!!!