A compelling cinematic achievement that fully immerses you in the breathtaking settings.
“THE REVENANT” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as frontiersman Hugh Glass, a man that sets out on an unrelenting path of vengeance against the members of his hunting party that left him behind after a brutal bear attack, and it will take a triumph of the human spirit to succeed in his mission of revenge.
It’s hard to figure out where to start when beginning a review of this film. The acting is incredible, the direction and cinematography are unprecedented, the settings and locations are perfectly selected to lure the viewer into the story, and the writing was decent but not great. Together everything works excellently to pull you into the story and keep your eyes locked on the screen for the entire run-time.
Alejandro Iñárritu took the directorial world by storm with “Birdman” and while that film may have been a much more layered story, his follow-up film still manages to further showcases his artistic eye. Several stories in the media would suggest Iñárritu is one of the most demanding directors in the industry and will push his cast to the limits, yet he still is able to assemble high-profile talent. This leads me to think those taking on a film being directed by him will know their limits are going to be tested, but in the end will result in a film that ‘ambitious’ would fail to properly describe.
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood and has pretty much done it all in his career as far as range of performances. He did not have to take on a role this physically demanding but he did, and there was no doubt after watching that he poured all his efforts into the performance and it is something that should be praised.
This could easily be the performance that gives DiCaprio the Oscar that has eluded him throughout his career. The lengths he went to convey the persona was riveting, and despite not knowing much about his character you learn a lot about him through his actions during the course of the story-line. The determination to survive that he exhibits through his expressions and mannerisms will have you rooting for his success.
Tom Hardy was also pretty good in his performance but I was at times getting annoyed buy his mumbling of the dialogue. He presented the film a formidable character, but being given large chunks of dialogue in a film that does not have much of it was an odd choice. Some of the scenes failed to deliver some of their impact due to his unclear delivery of his lines in my opinion and the time would have been better served elsewhere. He however was still able to give the film a solid character that fit the time-period well, feeling every bit like that of a frontiersman.
While DiCaprio was excellent and delivered all you could ask from the lead role, the true stars of this film are Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. What they are able to create with film is astonishing. When you look at the synopsis, having not seen the trailer, you would assume this is a relatively simple plot, and it is. Yet, Iñárritu and Lubezki team up to turn it into a one of a kind film. The way they tell this (simple) story-line is what makes it an extraordinary film that is without a doubt a must-see.
Being set in the 1800’s this film captured perfectly the harsh life people lived back then, and expresses the unrelenting winter elements that are alone, nearly uninhabitable. Added with the dangers of the uncharted wilderness and going on an expedition in the winter create an ominous feel that never lets up throughout. The rugged locations were captured with a beautiful eye and natural lighting which pulls you out of your seat and on to the terrain with the characters you are watching.
Lubezki’s cinematography gives the film a completely realistic feel and immerses you in the action during some of the battle-sequences. Added with a deep, impending score, the tension is heightened as the camera sweeps through the chaos with long, uncut shots that will pull you up in your seat. It also must be said the bear attack sequence was jaw-dropping and you will have to remind yourself to blink. How they pulled off that scene with the realism they did is remarkable and will be something unforgettable from an already top-notch film.
If there are some things that could have been better in this film it would have been the development of the script. There were long stints of dialogue-less imagery throughout and it was effective in conveying some layers to the characters. But a couple of the dynamics could have been fleshed out a little more to give a some added depth of knowledge to the viewer, but in the end it never hindered the overall enjoyment.
“The Revenant” was a cinematic wonder and worthy of all the praise it will inevitably receive. DiCaprio was raw, unfiltered and most important, believable. He was unlike I have ever seen him in a role and it is truly something to see. In Hollywood, striking gold can be done, following up with a second home-run is close to impossible but Iñárritu, after the success of “Birdman” knocks another one out of the park with this film and I can only wait with excitement to see where he will go next. If you love movies, and the creativity they can showcase then do yourself a favor and see this one.
– Starring –
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Paul Anderson, Lukas Haas, Grace Dove
– Directed By –
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Time: 156 min
MPAA Rating: R (For strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity)