Well, I’ll say this much for Kill Bill, Vol. 2…it’s a vast improvement over the atrocious Vol. 1. Perhaps because, one kinetic trailer park catfight notwithstanding, Tarantino isn’t trying to be an action director this time around, the second half of this revenge tale hangs together much better than the opening act. There’s actually time devoted to character beats here, which, as QT should know, is ultimately his forte as a writer and director. As such, Michael Madsen and David Carradine in particular get a chance to bring some much-needed complexity to the wafer-thin plot around which these films are constructed.
Still, like its predecessor, Kill Bill Vol. 2 has the whiff of a vanity project. It’s obvious Quentin had the time of his life making these two films, and they definitely seem to work as a love letter to a certain subset of grindhouse and chop-socky film fans (a group which includes David Edelstein, Roger Ebert, and Elvis Mitchell.) But, frankly, I thought a lot of Vol. 2 felt sloppy and derivative. I still don’t see why this project had to be two films, particularly as, once again, there’s so many drawn-out, redundant, or unnecessary episodes on display here. What’s up with the Uma car intro? Bud’s boss? Daryl Hannah’s googlesearch notes? Bill’s ridiculously QT-like riff on Superman? The tremendously stupid pregnancy test faceoff? As I noted about the first half of Kill Bill, Jackie Brown moves languidly, but with purpose. For much of these KB flicks, which often feel more like some sub-Tarantino outing (Killing Zoe, for example) than they do Jackie or Pulp Fiction, I was just bored.
Ultimately, there’s a difference between paying fleeting homage to some film influence and constructing a four and a half hour movie that just moves lazily from homage to homage. The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly, some Wu-Tang flick, Oh, look, The Vanishing. I’m sure that I recognized less than 10% of the movies Tarantino was referencing here, and I’m sure that probably invalidates my opinion of the film in many people’s eyes. And, if QT wants to show off his film-geek cred so blatantly and the film-geeks eat it up like candy, who am I to complain? Still, I very much hope that Tarantino had to get this orgy of excess out of his system, and that he’ll now settle down and focus his considerable talents a little more narrowly, instead of jumping all over the map as he does here.