The Revenant

The Revenant

In Theatres: 
Jan 08, 2016
Running Time: 
156 minutes

If revenge is a dish best served cold then Leonardo DiCaprio must have one massive plate. Everyone is talking about how grueling a shoot The Revenant was out in the brutal cold of Alberta, Canada and of DiCaprio’s performance. It was cold and exhausting, yes, but does the final product live up to the hype? If anyone can pull it off, it’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who is hot off of last year’s Oscar-winning Birdman.


Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an experienced hunter and trapper who is familiar with the unsettled wilderness of the 1800’s United States. He travels alongside fellow hunters eager to make some money, and their search for pelts leads them deep into dangerous and unfamiliar territory where if the local Native American’s don’t kill you, nature sure will. After a head on confrontation with a massive brown bear, Glass is severely injured and on the brink of death. Rather than help Glass, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) sees him as just a risk and decides to leave him for dead out in the wilderness. That’s after he kills Glass’ son right in front of him, too. Hellbent on extracting his vengeance against Fitzgerald, Glass defies all odds of survival and will stop at nothing until he see’s him dead.


Iñárritu is known for making beautiful films, and The Revenant may be his best yet. Every scene is absolutely stunning, and it will constantly make you question, “How did he film that?” Near the beginning of the film there is an attack on Glass’ camp by Native Americans. It’s a brutal action scene as men everywhere are shot by arrows and guns or stabbed by knives and axes. Rather than cut together multiple scenes however, Iñárritu simply sweeps the camera around to wherever the action is happening. It’s much more fluid and creates some breathtaking long shots.


This attack at the beginning of the film is actually the height of the action, as the rest of the film is focused primarily on DiCaprio alone in the wilderness and attempting to survive anyway he can. It’s just him and the harsh elements. It’s a personal journey for Glass, and the audience is with him every step of the way. You see him crawl through the dirt, struggle to stay afloat in rushing rapids, and eat whatever edible food he can find. It’s not some wide or out of focus shot, either. There are times where the camera gets so close to his face that you can see his breath condense on the lens.


At the same time we also see Fitzgerald as he makes his way back to camp with the young and inexperienced Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) so he can get paid. Where Glass is driven by revenge, Fitzgerald is driven by greed in everything he does. He only cares about himself and does whatever benefits him the most. It’s an interesting dichotomy between what drives a person when death is staring them in the face.


The Revenant is hauntingly beautiful and brutally ferocious all at the same time. Alejandro G. Iñárritu tells a gripping story with stellar performances from the entire cast and especially DiCaprio. Everyone says how it’s due time he finally wins an Oscar. I’d say he’s earned it with this performance.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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