“I AIN’T AFRAID TO DIE ANYMORE. I DONE IT ALREADY.”
Note: The following review is SPOILER FREE!
The Revenant colors the struggle for survival against nature and mankind with a fill contrived of viscera, heartbreak and revenge. This is all presented in a package that is one of the most expertly shot films I have ever seen. The film never lets up in the spectacle department, blessing the voyeur with cinematography that’s comprehensible even in the most manic and brutal of action sequences. The opening sequence of the film serves as the perfect exemplar, with the camera seemingly being tossed around and locking on to chaos: a longform, no-holds-barred introduction to this broken world.
Leonardo DiCaprio turns in an excellent performance as the damaged Hugh Glass. DiCaprio convincingly portrays a character who is truly scarred by past events and new ones that build up to one insanely high hurdle Glass must overcome. While DiCaprio runs through an extensive spectrum of emotions by the film’s end, the lack of dialogue does harm any development his character would have witnessed otherwise. With that, it didn’t halt any wave of sympathy I had for the character’s journey, as not only Glass, but real-life Leonardo DiCaprio, had to go through some horrifying trials. There is genuine pain and suffering done by real people, and it only added to the authenticity of Iñárritu’s vision.
Tom Hardy plays The Revenant’s selfish antagonist, John Fitzgerald. If you enjoyed the mumblings of Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road, you’re in for a treat with Fitzgerald. Jokes aside, Hardy’s character begs for more attention than allowed here. Where Dicaprio’s Glass is a calculating character on an existential path of revenge, Hardy’s Fitzgerald is a cowardly traitor with a sporadic demeanor, able to flip his tone and the scene’s tone by proxy.
The Revenant is a tale of revenge, but that tale is noticeably unbalanced. Glass is damaged early on in the film, and a great majority of its 152-minute runtime simmers on his recovery and his journey to find Fitzgerald. The result of this is a climax that feels like an afterthought, tacked on for necessary closure. I would have loved to see more of the immoral Fitzgerald, which would have made Glass’s flame for revenge burn all the hotter.
The Revenant is a masterfully crafted motion picture. The visuals took my breath away as the visceral combat brought it right back. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy were stunning and completely lost in their characters, and Alejandro Iñárritu’s direction surrounded their stories with a beautifully shot world that made nature seem alien in the highest regard. With a narrative that does feel drawn out, naturally causing a rushed end, the film is still able to deliver a package of cinema many others can’t touch at their peak.
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Additional editing by April Soller. Thanks.
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