Fur trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is leading a band of men in a hunting party in 1820s South Dakota when he’s attacked and viciously and remorselessly assaulted by a big grizzly bear.His men are only in it for themselves and when they see the condition he’s left in, they leave him for dead with help of the intimidation tactics by the unflinching and cold John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). They murder his half Native-American son in cold blood and leave Glass in a shallow grave to die. But he survives.
Now he must brave the elements he encounters in order to survive, as well as outwit warring tribes. In order to obtain his retribution, he must conquer the sheer cold, wind, rain and snow on a 120 mile trek to the location of Fitzgerald. This is from director, Alejandro Gonzalez (Birdman) and it is truly as dark, raw and gritty as the rumors suggest. This is based on part of the book ‘The Revenant: A Novel Of Revenge’ by Michael Punke. The original novel was based on true events that entailed betrayal, deception, survival, will power and ultimate redemption. The film’s ruthless realism stems from Inarritu’s will to film Glass’ suffering using natural light in truly remorseless landscapes.
The film excels in every department from acting to music to direction but what got me was the sheer harshness of this movie. The cinematography was what captured me. The landscapes and location were equal to the goodness of Peter Jackson’s location shooting for Lord Of The Rings. The way this movie is shot is truly remarkable and if this movie doesn’t win Best Picture, I will be flabbagasted. There isn’t any other movie that comes close to this movie in terms aesthetics and wow factor. This film is bloody, twisted, adrenaline fulled and in your face. You see every ounce of Glass’ pain and suffering through uses of the extreme close up and close up shots especially in the scene where he is mauled by bear to the point of near death. The cinematography is truly remarkable and I was in tears by just looking at the choice of locations that Inarritu decided to use.
This is a revenge tale and we’ve all seen revenge films. Kill Bill, Gladiator, Django Unchained, Gangs Of New York, Law Abiding Citizen, V For Vendetta, Cape Fear; the list goes on. People didn’t like the idea that a movie with a basic revenge plot was getting a lot of hype and not to forget to mention, 12 Oscar nominations. Personally, I think it is worth every bit of hype it receives and the cast is truly phenomenal. Revenge is a dish best served cold is an old proverb from way back when but still applies today, especially in The Revenant which is set in the MidWest in South Dakota where everywhere you look is an icicle.
The Oscar-nominated performances by Tom Hardy (Legend,Bronson) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained,Blood Diamond) are worth the nominations which can’t be said to a few of this year’s contenders in the acting categories. Their performances are powerful, strong, gritty, dark and what’s more, they both overflow with conviction. We’re all sane in our own mind is a common saying but in this movie each character thinks he’s right. Tom Hardy thinks all his actions are justified and Glass thinks that by killing Fitzgerald, revenge will bring him peace. Both performances were tear jerking. Through Leo’s career, I have only found two films that I didn’t like. That was due to the film and not his performance. Those are The Great Gatsby and Titanic. His performance in both was on point. Leo is truly unkillable in this flick. I have yet to find a Tom Hardy movie that I don’t like. His work on Legend was to be commended with each performance he keeps getting better and better. He’s one of the best active talents we have in Britain today.
The supporting cast included Domhnall Gleeson (Force Awakens, Brooklyn) and Will Poulter (Maze Runner) who both gave good performances. Gleeson playing the naive yet honorable captain and Poulter playing a young adolescent rookie, Bridger who knows nothing of the world. Very trusting and doesn’t understand that sometimes you have to do what’s necessary to survive as Fitzgerald tries to teach him. He has a good heart, which would most likely get him killed in the harsh wilderness of South Dakota. Poulter is building up his acting resume nicely having been casted to play Pennywise in the remake of Stephen King’s It, but Domnhall Gleeson is getting some good gigs as well having been casted as General Hux in Star Wars but also giving his career best in Brooklyn but even before that, he was in Ex Machina, and the Harry Potter franchise as William ‘Bill’ Weasley.
In conclusion, this is one of the best films of 2015 and ticking all the boxes for me. It has received twelve Oscar nominations, eight BAFTA nominations and I wouldn’t be irritated if it got twelve wins and eight wins at the BAFTAs. All the nominated areas are warranted. Direction, writing, acting, costume, make up etc. It’s excellent on every level despite its three-hour running time. For some people, three hours is a long time to remain in one position and gaze at a screen. In my opinion, it doesn’t drag. It’s steady to begin with and it sucks you in and ends with an excellent yet predictable climax at the end with the final showdown between Leo and Tom tussling to the death on the ice. Truly an excellent a movie and I sincerely hope that Leo gets his Oscar. He should have won at least three by now.
I only have one qualm. It’s not really with the movie but more the certificate. It was certificated 15 in the UK. It’s bloody, brutal, dark and violent. I think this quantifies for an 18 certificate but the film itself, is first class.