Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Written by: Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter
Surviving out in the wild comes with its own set of challenges with each geographic location. Whether it be the climate or the other living things, it puts anyone out there at a disadvantage and it becomes difficult to think of a film showing the painstaking challenges more than The Revenant. Brutal to a disconcerting degree this feature exemplifies impeccable filmmaking even with a substandard screenplay.
Helping lead a group of hunters in gathering animal pelts for profit, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) suffers a horrific attack from a bear leaving him fatally injured. Powerless to stop his son’s death, he will stop at nothing to get revenge on the man who took the young man’s life.
The Revenant has developed an intriguing legacy for being a showcase of just how desperate some actors are to win an Academy Award. DiCaprio came so close with other much better performances that he decided he will essentially put himself through the wringer both physically and emotionally thus daring the Academy to ignore his pleas for the golden statue. Well, it worked but at what cost? Certainly not his finest work but it all comes as part of something difficult to watch but so impressively made it becomes impossible to look away.
Opening with an attack of an indigenous tribe on a group of settlers in the Dakotas, this feature goes all out and displays Iñárritu’s mastery of creating immersive sequences. Utilizing his trusted one-shot method, he displays the horrors of how these groups interacted and the bloodshed spilled for the purpose of land and profit. The opening sequence seeks to set the expectations of how gruesome the rest of the film will be and what we receive certainly matches to start the horrific voyage of Hugh Glass as the man has the worst time anyone could experience out in the wild.
Sitting at over 150 minutes, much of this film centers on Glass’s recovery out in the wild after the famous bear attack and everything he must do in order to make it back to the settlement and get revenge against the man who killed his son. Things certainly do not go well for Glass at the start with some horrific encounters. It shows the lengths a man would go to get revenge to the point where you have to admire the dedication. Seriously, when you’re hungry enough to eat raw bison liver nothing else could possibly scare you. This survivalist tale works incredibly well even if some of the moments languish far too much in Glass’s labored breathing and simply trying to outlast the elements. In several scenes, it meanders far too much and certainly tests our patience, which damages the film considering the plot at the center of it is incredibly simple.
With all that being said when this film reaches its apex it absolutely sings and makes for some jaw-dropping sequences where Glass finds himself in precarious circumstances. This danger could come from the elements but also from fellow humans who may have a bone to pick with him for one reason or another. The way this man manages to survive astounds in all reality considering the amount of hardship he must endure to the point where it feels like a spiritual journey with all of the obstacles set before him. This all gets amplified by the incredible direction of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu.
Surprisingly a divisive director and seen as someone far too self-indulgent, this man has always managed to impress even when the screenplay does not reach his level. If anything he knows how to elevate words on the script and make them utterly enthralling. With this feature, he crafts a stunning spectacle to take in with a fairly simple revenge story and dialogue that never needed to impress but certainly does not help in elevating the film as a whole. This serves as one of his more impressive directorial achievements in a career where he continues to push the envelope of what he wants to present and the manner in which he achieves it.
Certainly not an easy watch by any stretch of the imagination, this feature deserves some of the ribbing by its detractors, especially with what DiCaprio puts himself through for the sake of some Oscar glory. However, The Revenant manages to provide an incredible thrill ride from beginning to end in how it brings us into Dakotas in the 1800s and all of the dangers existent for anyone who dared to go out into the wild.