DIRECTED BY: Alejandro González Iñárritu
STARRING: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Grace Dove, Paul Anderson, Brendan Fletcher, Kristoffer Joner, Melaw Nakehk’o, Duane Howard, Brad Carter, Lukas Haas and Tyson Wood
A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
The Revenant places us in the 1820’s where we follow a group of hunters and trappers out hunting for pelts in the wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase. We mainly follow Hugh Glass, an experience explorer and hunter, as he ends up being brutally attacked by a bear and is left for dead by members of his hunting team. We follow Glass’s desire to not only survive, but struggle through an exhausting revenge on the man that betrayed him the most, John Fitzgerald.
There is a lot of hype surrounding The Revenant, with it starring Leonardo DiCaprio opposite Tom Hardy, Alejandro González Iñárritu in the directors chair after his Oscar win for Birdman, collaborating once again with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who won an Oscar for his work on Birdman also. Here Iñárritu manages to create a film visually in the vein that will spark similarities to the likes of Terrence Malick and even Stanley Kubrick, whilst telling a compelling revenge story…that takes a while to get from point A to point B.
The premise is simple in its storytelling form after the opening act where we witness the group led by Captain Andrew Henry is ambushed by a Native American tribe, the films turning point is of course Hugh Glass being mauled by a bear and the entire sequence is the films standout moment, with terrific use of CGI effects for the bear attacking Glass in a seamless one shot take (I believe it was if memory serves me correctly as I’m half-asleep typing this, which is bad in itself but anyways…) and then is left for dead by members of his group, most notably that of John Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy. From going from a trusted and confident member of his group to a man stripped of everything, Leonardo DiCaprio has to rely on portraying the character with numerous grunts, eyes and body movements to give the audience emotion that he can’t convey with words anymore and he does a terrific job in doing so as we go on witness this man being battered down by nature and being . Out of the Oscar contenders for Best Actor, it is definitely between Leo and Fassbender for that award and this performance could finally earn him that golden statue. Not to be outshined by Leo fellow cast member Tom Hardy, the films antagonist that at times mumbles at Banes levels that I couldn’t pick up a few lines, he carries that aurora whenever he’s on screen that makes you pay attention to what he’s doing (and not doing) as we witness his frustration with events surrounding the group. Domnhall ‘I’ve been everything the last twelve months’ Gleeson also has his moments as the good hearted Captain and Forrest Goodluck shines alongside Leonardo DiCaprio as we buy into their bond as father and son. Once again Iñárritu creates some great moments, especially with the battle sequences while Lubezki is definitely in a battle with Roger Deakins for his third Oscar, capturing the beauty of the landscape with the grit of what proceeds on the ground.
The films premise however is a revenge story that feels too dragged out, as stated getting from point A to point B, as we follow glass on a series of unfortunate events in order to get back to the revenge arc in the films final act, personally I couldn’t help but feel the runtime. As important as the hallucinations scenes that Glass goes through may be, they done nothing for me (well, bar one) and at times took me out of the film. The ambient score for me from Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto I wasn’t fussed on until the films final act.
A revenge tale told in a beautiful landscape, with strong performances and some memorable sequences. Pity that the films middle act didn’t have as much bite as the first and final acts. 8/10