Let’s get right to the point. The Revenant is two and a half hours of Leonardo DiCaprio being cruelly knocked down then pulling together all his strength an ingenuity to get his hands on that Oscar for best actor.
Even the title suggests Leo’s march towards Oscar stardom as The Revenant means: Someone who has returned to Oscar nominations… OK, I might have added a few words.
From start to finish this film can be best described as torture porn because the plot is incredibly simple: Red Indians attack a troupe of frontiersmen working for a fur/pelt trading company. During the escape Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) gets attacked by a bear, then his colleague John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), then the cold, then, then, then.
If death by a thousand cuts means lots of small bad things happening then The Revenant needs it’s own saying. Maybe: death by a thousand Mike Tyson’s wearing sharks instead of boxing gloves?
The biggest and most shocking of these cuts is the bear scene that you briefly see in the trailer. Unlike the trailer though this scene goes on for at least ten, unflinching, brutal, jaw-dropping minutes.
This scene is really incredible not because only because the effects are incredibly realistic but it also highlights Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s willingness to put the audience in a state of discomfort which in turn shows a self confidence about the movie’s direction.
That fact that the direction doesn’t waver in it’s depiction of horrifying imagery is invaluable because this is the path that the movie continues on with Leonardo DiCaprio putting in an incredible physical performance, braving freezing water and raw meat in search of his Oscar.
Personally though I found this performance to the detriment of subtlety in what little dialogue he has. In fact I thought DiCaprio was out shined by Tom Hardy; even if his role of Bane has proved an influence due to some semi-inaudible dialogue.
As good as Hardy is within The Revenant the star of the show belongs to the atmosphere that start at volume ten and never really gets turned down. This is thanks in part to the bland yet somehow overbearing soundtrack that rumbles in the background as if danger is just round the corner.
Once this was layered on top of the bleak surroundings, the merciless on-screen brutality and a thoroughly calculated pace I found it a truly captivating experience.
In my opinion the rate at which the film progresses is absolutely necessary to that feeling of dispair that drips from each scene adding a sense of honesty that feels sorely lacking in many a Hollywood film that tends to err on the side of sensationalism after all that shot of someone spilling a drink would look much better with an explosion behind it right!?
That said, I can fully appreciate that the pacing within The Revenant is not going to be everyone’s cup of mead as it is very slow so it’s one of those films that if it grabs you you’ll be hooked but if it doesn’t then you might find it more interesting to fight that grizzly bear yourself.
I’ve not looked into how much of this is based on real events but amazingly it IS based on real events. However true it is, Mr Glass has had one hell of a bad time, thankfully it’s given us a really good time, that is if you like seeing people desperate for Oscars!
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ That bear scene!
+ Brutal, honest, graphic
+ Tom Hardy
+ DiCaprio’s acting
– Too slow for some
– DiCaprio’s acting!?