Survival. Inspired by true events, this is about a trapper in the wilderness (Leonardo DiCaprio). The group of men that he’s traveling with have a tough decision to make after he gets horrifically mauled by a bear, as it is already tough enough to get by with hostile Native Americans nearby and the elements of the wild without having to haul around dead weight. Everybody was excited for this movie, and how could you not be; after helming the fabulous work of art that is Birdman, everybody wanted to see what director Alejandro González Iñárritu did next. The Revenant does not disappoint, but you have to know what you’re getting yourself into, and that is an exhausting survival revenge film that never lets up.
Make no mistake, Leo worked his ass off for this Oscar.
The movie that immediately came to mind quickest when I heard about this was 2011’s The Grey, but because this is set so much further back in the past, the two films both manage to be unique. This is a duration movie through and through, and while Leo is surviving onscreen in front of you, it is equally as taxing for you as an audience member to witness these atrocities that this man put himself through. From a filmmaking standpoint, I think this is amazing. Everything technical is present and stunning, and the cinematography to this is nothing short of breathtaking, even despite it being so graphically violent at points. I also thought the sound was masterfully done as well; there are so many scenes of struggle where you are placed right there in the moment, and that has everything to do with the rightly chosen sound effects. And the bear scene. The. Bear. Scene. It is one of the most horrific animal fight sequences ever shot, and it is so well done that I don’t fully comprehend exactly how they put it together. It goes on for quite some time, and all you can do it witness it like a stunned bystander, mouth agape.
Mama bear don’t play.
Now I am glad that I got to watch this in a theater, because I feel like if I watched this at home, I may have gotten restless. It is such an endurance test that it really doesn’t make for a pleasant affair; don’t expect to feel great after watching this movie. I also had problems fully understanding the dialogue at times; it’s a very physical performance from Leo, and he doesn’t have all that many lines of dialogue, but whenever Tom Hardy spoke in his backwater accent, I feel like I only got 75% of his lines at best. Nothing good happens in this grueling film that is a dearth of positive feelings, but not all movies are made with the intention of making you feel all hunky dory. The craft to this is amazing, and my rating reflects that.
The Revenant (2015) ****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015? See for yourself here.