We’re only one week into 2016 and we get to start the year off on a great note with our first notable release. The Revenant is the story of a group of Fur Traders that are ambushed and resort to fleeing back to their base of operations. In this group we get three dominant figures; Hugh Glass, (Leonardo DiCaprio) John Fitzgerald, (Tom Hardy) and Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) that lead the group. Glass predominantly leads the group through their endeavors with his son at his side. Though Fitzgerald isn’t a huge fan of Glass and his indian son, that’s just where the tension starts to begin.
The film opens on a bombastic note in one of the grittiest battles I’ve ever seen for a movie set in the 1800s. The Fur Traders vs. Indians was an unrelenting skirmish between the factions and their technology. Arrows whistling through the air against gunshots that can be heard from miles away yet have a much more lethal impact. We’re put right smack in the middle of this and watching each party make their move is captivating as no one is safe.
The ending is just as powerful, but a little gripe I had was the middle portion of the movie that seemed to lose some steam. Granted, this is a two and a half hour movie, it’s longer, it feels longer. Some parts drag, especially when Dicaprio’s character is dragging himself from point A to point B. So pacing is a little off, but there’s a scene almost immediately after the opening that involves a bear that will be talked about for a long time and is probably a standout moment in this dreary, melancholy movie.
The score encapsulates this feeling with a theme that lingers and is long and drawn out. The Revenant is not for the faint of heart or those looking for anything feel good. The Revenant is about two men and the justice that one man desires more than anything after going through a series of personal hells amplified to a new extreme. Glass and others in the movie get so banged up, legs are twisted the complete opposite direction, throats are ripped out, body parts are mutilated, and you’ve never seen it in such detail. When looking at a particular character in The Revenant you see the small details of scuffs of blood and missing flesh on their fingers and foreheads, this is the smallest degree of gore you will see for the entire movie.
Also if you’re a fan of horses I wouldn’t recommend seeing this movie.
Aside all of that content we are given some of the most exquisite cinematography I’ve seen in a long time. There hasn’t been a movie better shot than The Revenant or MacBeth (2015) and if either doesn’t win the Oscar for ‘Best Cinematography’ I’ll be baffled. While Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu is known more for 2014’s Birdman, that movie had exception cinematography but the gimmick to the movie was that it was all stitched together to appear like it was all one constant shot. This movie retains some of the lengthier shots that Birdman had, however in this movie it was done completely with natural lighting and that just compliments the beautiful shots. Fire particularly looks vibrant and dances with sparks in the air as we are shown a cold and brutal winter environment.
So we can have a beautiful movie, with a great score, but The Revenant is the complete package because of it’s acting. The first thing I noticed is that there’s so much talk of Dicaprio getting a long-overdue Oscar for his role in The Revenant, therefore I paid more attention to him. It hit me that for much of the movie he can’t really speak but does a good portion of his role through his body language. There are so many scenes where he is huddled next to someone, dead and alive, parts where he is nearly dead or alive. Watching Dicaprio trudge through an unforgiving landscape and passing insurmountable odds is captivating. His determination to get what he wants and the scenes where his is frothing at the mouth because he is losing his battle to live are extraordinary. I would be shocked if Dicaprio isn’t nominated and doesn’t win for Best Actor because he does an upstanding job in this movie and is one of his better roles.
Tom Hardy’s character is a different story, being more of a gruff american, he sounds like a drunken Jeff Bridges more than anything and is difficult to understand at times. Domhnall Gleeson plays his role as Captain Andrew Henry well and though he isn’t featured too much in the movie it is good to see him in a unique role. The plot of the movie is rather predictable as well but it’s Hugh Glass’s trek and journey that keep us in a trance as we want to know where he ends up and what he ends up doing. The movie is always interesting and even through the slowest parts is a gorgeous thing to behold. 2016 has started off on a great note as The Revenant is a great movie for the hardcore movie fans or those wanting to see something new, brutal, and adventurous.