Inglourious Basterds (2009)

inglourious basterds poster 2009 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great cast, some tense scenes

The core story seems pretty weak, Tarantino unnecessarily goes Tarantino at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Inglourious Basterds

Studio:  A Band Apart

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 20, 2009 (Cannes)/August 21, 2009 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

inglourious basterds melanie laurent

Oh yes, revenge will be mine

Hitler and the Third Reich have gutted the European countryside and sent family scrambling for safety.  When Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) escapes the slaughter of her family by SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) in 1941, she reestablishes herself at a movie theater in Paris where she begins to plot her revenge.  In 1944, Hitler’s forces are being picked off by a group known as the Basterds.  Led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), the Basterds love to kill Nazis…and they are good at it.  When the Allied forces get word that a special showing of a German propaganda picture is scheduled for Paris, the Basterds are sent in…but Shosanna is unknowing plotting her own revenge.

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds is a World War II action revenge-fantasy.  Following Tarantino’s Death Proof in 2007, the film takes its title from the 1978 Enzo G. Castellari film Quel maledetto treno bilndato…aka The Inglorious Bastards.  The film received praise from critics and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Waltz) with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.

inglourious basterds michael fassbender august diehl nazi bar

“Can’t a Nazi killer go into a Nazi bar without it being problem, guy?”

After being such a big influence in the 1990s, for me, Quentin Tarantino became a bit hit-or-miss.  I loved his dialogue (though everyone tried to copy it), and I loved some of his visionary retro style…but I also think he got a bit full of himself and believed some of his own press.  That being said, he is still a talented filmmaker, and I know it is sacrilegious to many of his fans, but Inglourious Basterds isn’t one of my favorites of his movies.  A ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

Some people have a problem that Inglourious Basterds is a revenge fantasy.  It of course doesn’t market this, but a fictitious movie can do what it wants…including kill Hitler.  If the rest of the story isn’t true, why does the ending have to be historically accurate?  The movie tries to spring it as a surprise in the line that you think Shosanna and the Basterds’ plans are going to collide and cancel each other out…instead they multiply each other.  This doesn’t bother me.

“Ms. von Hammersmark…you knew you were going to have to give me your foot…this IS a Quentin Tarantino film…”

What does bother me is that it seems like Tarantino had ideas for some incredible (and tense) scenes, but didn’t have a ton of connective tissue with the story.  The opening scene, the restaurant scene, the bar scene, and the questioning of Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) are fantastic…but the whole movie largely feels episodic and not in a good classic serial way.

The cast is great.  Mélanie Laurent has some great scenes which make me wish she was a bigger breakout from the film.  Brad Pitt gets to go full redneck as Raine and is joined with Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender, Til Schweiger, Samm Levine, and The Office’s B.J. Novak (which was a really odd casting choice at the time the film was made).  The scene-stealer of course is Christoph Waltz who almost came from relative obscurity on an international and got the cadence and tone of Tarantino’s character.

inglourious basterds ending brad pitt bj novak

The Basterds will be back…in “Still Basterds After All These Years”

The visuals are another problematic aspect of the film.  I sometimes feel that Tarantino can’t help but go Tarantino…and he doesn’t always need to.  Little breakaways from the script like the explanation of the flammability of nitrate film using a film strip, titles, and other aspects feel gimmicky and the dialogue of the film holds together without these rather distracting sequences.  The film’s violence and humor comes naturally and doesn’t need to be added to.

Inglourious Basterds is a Tarantino film I can only watch every great once in a while.  Often listed as a “favorite” by fans, I feel I’m in the minority in just feeling ok to good about Inglourious Basterds.  I recognize the strength of the dialogue and scenes, but I want more meat from the script.  It could have been a fantastic movie instead of just a good movie.  Tarantino followed Inglourious Basterds with Django Unchained in 2012.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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