13
Feb
16

The Revenant

“Oh my god, that movie was so crazy,” said Mrs. Brik as we walked out of the theater.

Crazy is a pretty good way to describe The Revenant. It’s a movie about surviving under the most intense conditions. But it’s not just about survival. It’s also about revenge. Leonard DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a man who struggles to stay alive while tracking the man who ruined his life.

The plot is pretty straightforward, and there isn’t much to it other than a basic revenge premise. What sets this movie apart is the setting and the performance from the lead actor.

The Revenant takes place around Yellowstone in 1823 in the bitter winter. DiCaprio is part of a fur-trading company, and he and a group of men (including his son) have gone on a trapping expedition. The group is attacked by Indians, and only a few manage to escape. DiCaprio is then attacked by a bear, and looks like he will die at any moment. The group needs to move ahead, but they can’t take DiCaprio with them because he’s little more than a lump of rotting flesh. Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy, stays behind with DiCaprio’s son to bury him when he dies. Hardy gets antsy to move on, and murders DiCaprio’s son and leaves DiCaprio for dead.

What follows next is almost two hours of DiCaprio crawling across the frozen Earth, swimming down frigid rivers, and nearly starving to death. The film is harrowing in its brutal depiction of DiCaprio scraping by to survive. Realism is taken to the extreme as we watch him freeze, bleed, eat raw meat, and hallucinate. I can’t think of any other survival film that showed everything in such graphic detail. It doesn’t go for gross-out stuff, and everything DiCaprio does feels organic to the story.

There is surprisingly little dialogue throughout the course of the film. DiCaprio is alone, so there is obviously no one for him to talk to. For long stretches of time, there is silence. All we hear are the sounds of indifferent Nature all around him. His acting, however, is incredible. He conveys his sadness, anger, and despair through his face alone. Watching him work in this film is a rare treat.

The film is quite long, and there are several stretches where not much seems to happen, or rather, things do happen, but it feels like they could have done them more expeditiously. It could have been 30 minutes shorter, and would have been better for it. This is a film for the patient, but those who stick through it will be rewarded.

The action scenes are intense. The bear attack alone was one of the most gripping things I have seen in a movie in years. It goes on and on, and when you think it’s over, there’s more to come. The final battle between DiCaprio and Hardy was also riveting, and you really don’t know who is going to win in the end.

Director Alejandro Inarritu did a fantastic job. The unforgiving wilderness around DiCaprio is just as much a character as he is. Inarritu made certain to showcase this prominently. Beautiful establishing shots, and eerie sounds effects go a long way to making the viewer feel as if they are out there with DiCaprio. He froze while making this movie, and I felt cold while watching it. Pacing issues aside, Inarritu fully delivered his vision to the screen.

This film is bleak, bordering on nihilistic, but this very starkness makes it beautiful at the same time. The themes are as old as time itself, but they resonate just as clearly today as they would in any generation.

There aren’t a lot of films that I feel live up to the hype, but this is one of them. Expertly directed, incredibly acted, and with gripping tension, The Revenant delivers on all counts. DiCaprio, Hardy, Inarritu, and everyone involved in the production should be proud.

Verdict: Awesome

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7 Responses to “The Revenant”


  1. February 13, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Nice to hear you enjoyed this. I didn’t mind the run time but I think shaving off 30 mins could have helped make this tighter, especially the middle portion. Great review Brik!

  2. 5 Paragraph Film Reviews
    February 15, 2016 at 6:22 am

    Going to see this in a couple of weeks when it hits our local cinema: pumped at the AWESOME rating – most things I’ve heard have been disappointed.

  3. December 30, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Leo finally got his Oscar for this film. And Inarritu won Best Director for the second year in a row (the first time in 65 years). And cinematographer Lubezki won for the third straight year.


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