Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Running Time: 153 mins
The Revenant is an American film about the true story of frontiersman Hugh Glass who, after being left for dead following a vicious bear attack, embarked on an epic quest to seek his revenge.
If you’re thinking about watching this movie, be prepared. No seriously, be really prepared, because it’s one of the most intense and unrelenting cinematic experiences of recent years. With stunning cinematography and directing and a mesmerising performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, coupled with intense gore and violence, The Revenant is an amazingly engrossing film that, at times, left me jaw-dropped.
Having said that, I wasn’t immediately sold on The Revenant. Such is the intensity and chaos of its action and cinematography, I began the film thinking everything was a bit of a joke, and wasn’t immediately grabbed by the alleged intensity of the story. Even the already infamous bear attack scene wasn’t so astonishing, and for the first half an hour or so, I was struggling to really get to grips with the film, a feeling worsened by the fact that it seemed to all be moving pretty slowly.
However, everything changed at the focal point where Glass is left for dead. From that moment on, I was absolutely astonished by the emotional intensity of The Revenant, coupled with the extreme power of its gritty visuals and action that ultimately lit the spark of what is an absolutely enthralling film.
Throughout, despite a lot of slow-moving long takes either establishing the setting or Glass’ gradual road to revenge, the film manages to do the impossible, by making a slow-paced movie seem really fast. At times, yes, The Revenant did drag, but for the most part, this didn’t feel at all like a two and a half hour long movie.
That’s largely down to the mind-blowing central performance given by Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s an extremely physical performance, given that he has very little dialogue (most of which is in another language), but what he manages to do so well is convey the emotional trauma through just face expressions. Spending half the movie dragging himself across the snowy forest floor, this is acting stripped down to its barest bones, but in the end, it’s a massively impressive and pretty unique turn that definitely deserves some serious awards recognition.
The other most outstanding aspect of the film is the astonishing directing by Alejandro González Iñárritu. With the assistance of master cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, it seems that Iñárritu has built on his astonishing filmmaking techniques firmly established in Birdman, and then some. The long takes, the natural lighting, the extreme silence and the breathtaking landscape shots all come together to make a visually spectacular movie that really grabs you right from the off. Even if you’re not so invested in the story, which can happen at brief moments, the visuals will easily get you right back into this intoxicating film.
Overall, The Revenant is a fantastically gritty and intense thriller, with stunning emotional resonance captured expertly by DiCaprio in the lead role, and then firmly cemented by the incredible directing and cinematography, and that’s why I’ll give it an 8.7.