For most of 2015 I was greatly anticipating the release of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant. The movie certainly promised a whole lot; from incredible locations to a harrowing bear attack, another brilliant performance from Leonardo DiCaprio and plenty of jaw dropping scenes. And I’m glad to say that it delivers on all fronts and so much more!
The Revenant is loosely based on the life of fur trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) and is set in America in 1883, a wild and harsh time where life brought with it many dangers. Glass and his fellow trappers are out in the remote, snow-covered American Wilderness when they encounter a large group of Native Americans who are on a mission to find the kidnapped daughter of their chief – brutally killing anyone they encounter on their important quest.
The group of hunters are plunged deep into trouble and are forced to flee their camp after many of their men are killed and injured in the encounter. They make off on a boat under a storm of blood and arrows and are quickly sent on the run under the expert guidance of Glass and the group’s leader, Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson).
They find a suitable place to recover and get some rest after their brush with the natives. But while the hunting party regroups, Glass has a very unfortunate encounter with a huge grizzly bear while out exploring their surroundings. And by unfortunate, I mean insanely intense! The CGI is brilliant, bringing the bear to brutal life as it attacks and ravages its victim, and I found myself cringing in pain along with Glass as he goes toe to toe with the bear. Well, at least he tries to.
Now this part is not only pivotal because of the insane bear scene – a gruesome attack that may just turn some stomachs as it’s pulled off so realistically – but its here where the group are left with the decision to leave Glass behind or drag him along and try to restore his health as they flee their attackers. At this point fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who has a strong dislike towards Glass because has a half-Native American son named Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), steps up, so to speak.
Captain Henry makes the decision that two of his men, need to stay with Glass and try to heal his wounds and if they can’t then they need to give the man a proper burial. Fitzgerald joins these men, mostly for a financial reward, but when things take a turn for the worse he shows his true killer colours. He leaves Glass for dead, half-buried alive in a shallow grave, sure of the fact that the man will meet his demise either from his fatal wounds or at the hands of the angry natives.
Unfortunately for Fitzgerald that is not the case and Glass, despite his life threatening injuries, drags himself off on an incredible, cruel and intense journey, through a rugged and unforgiving frozen wilderness. With a clear disregard for his life and his ragged body, he has one only one thing left to live for: his revenge of Fitzgerald.
There are plenty of insane moments in this movie and most of them are brilliantly brought to life in the most visceral, believable fashion by DiCaprio. Movie after movie he has delivered such impressive performances that the lack of Oscar recognition has become a bit of a cruel running joke. Could this be the performance that finally gets Leo that coveted golden statue? I have no doubt.
DiCaprio’s performance is intense and he has clearly immersed himself in the role (at one point he eats a raw bison liver for real). There are some challenging moments and the movie was no doubt physically demanding. Leo takes full advantages of these challenges and pushes himself to one of the most impressive performances I have seen from anyone in a long time.
The rest of the cast is really good as well, especially Hardy (who admittedly me has never really blown me away dramatically as much as he does some fans). In The Revenant however you see him adding a lot more depth to his performance and plays the movie’s antagonist so well, you will find yourself disliking his character almost immediately!
Overall what Iñárritu delivers is a gritty, intense movie that also often plays out like a work of art. The backdrops are breathtaking – all brought to vivid life through some highly creative and technically masterful cinematography – and the environments are as lavishly shot as they are unforgiving. The pacing is also intense in this dark and violent adventure; it’s not so much non-stop action scenes – though there are those aplenty – but rather an ever-present, unending sense of dread that clenches your stomach and hardly gives you a moment’s respite to catch your breath. It’s a truly thrilling experience and a movie that will burn its way into your memory forever! Who will enjoy The Revenant? Everyone! It’s just that good!
Last Updated: January 14, 2016