Review: The Revenant
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu surprised everyone with Birdman last year leaving plenty of anticipation for The Revenant. Add in the fact that it also stars two terrific actors in Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy it just added fuel to the fire. Inarritu's Birdman did wonders to revitalize Michael Keaton's career and maybe this year get DiCaprio that elusive Oscar. As for the film on hand, The Revenant tells a story that can be summed up as a journey or even a revenge story but truly it is more then that. It is an example of perseverance and the inhuman struggle despite how brutal life can be. All of that being said it can be difficult to watch at times seeing how grueling an endeavor that DiCaprio's character has been put through and Inarritu does an even better job behind the camera. It is no shock to see why this film is getting so much love from the Oscars even despite the long run time and familiar plot.
The plot follows frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) who was hired by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s. The party's camp is attacked by the Native Americans and many of the trappers are killed while the survivors escape on a boat. The most experienced hunter Glass who also has extensive knowledge of the area and natives tells the remaining survivors that their best bet is to journey back to their outpost by foot. The men in the expedition are split on the inclusion of Glass as he brought along his half breed son Hawk who is of the native culture. One man, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) in particular is very hostile towards Glass and Hawk as he was once scalped by the natives years earlier. While scouting ahead alone, Glass is ambushed by a grizzly bear after disturbing her cubs. Despite killing the grizzly bear he is badly mauled and the party discover him close to death. They quickly make a stretcher and carry him along as they continue their trek to their outpost but doing so slows them down to much. Henry decides to go up ahead, offering money to the people that stay behind with Glass. Fitzgerald jumps at the oppurtunity and takes it to exact his misplaced revenge on Glass and his son. Except, Fitzgerald only kills Hawk and leaves Glass behind to die. Through determination and sheer force of will, Glass gets up determined to live and get revenge on Fitzgerald. However the journey on the way leads Glass to realizing things about his life and move past his previous sins.
Alejandro Inarritu is truly a unique director and continues to impress with this film. The opening action sequence in which the Native Americans attack the party is one of the more impressive scenes I have seen all year. Inarritu's use of a single one shot to show the action added to the tension of the scene making the audience believe that truly anything can happen. It is a credit to Inarritu as well as the choreography of the stunt crew. However, nothing will ever compare to the scene between DiCaprio and the bear. All of which was again done in one continuous take which again stuns me considering just have savage of a scene it was and how in this day and age no actor would ever put himself through that grueling of a scene. The amazing aspect of the scene is that it is all in one take and yet still seamlessly transitions from a real bear to a fake one. That is a credit to Inarritu and again his crew.
My biggest issue with the film would be the long run time, which isn't necessary. Thirty minutes could have easily been taken out of the film and it would be better for it. Some may have an issue with the lack of dialogue but enough is already said. Movies in this day and age have to much exposition in the dialogue and frankly, to much dialogue in general. This movie excels in showing you through a performance how someone is feeling. It is never talked about and it is simply shown which is a huge credit to the performances of both Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. DiCaprio does a tremendous job in the film as he fights through the bleakness of humanity and life through his sheer iron will. Hardy also gives one of his better performances as Fitzgerald. A man that fights for what he believes in even if his beliefs may be misplaced.