Review of 'The Revenant'

the_revenant.jpg Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fur trading guide along with his half-Indian son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) in 1820s when their expedition is attacked by native Indians. Led by their captain, Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) the survivors escape by boat. As they make their way to Fort Kiowa Glass is attacked by a mother grizzly bear protecting her clubs. Killing the attacking bear Glass finds himself horrifically wounded lying under the corpse of the bear when he is discovered by others in the group. As they continue on towards the fort it is quickly apparent that it will be impossible to transport Glass on his stretcher so Henry reluctantly offers payment for any men who would be willing to encamp and guard over Glass. Hawk and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) volunteer along with the racist and all-round bad guy John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). A short time later Fitzgerald kills Hawk after he witnesses Fitzgerald attempting to kill his father then Fitzerald convinces Bridger that Glass is as good as dead, burying him alive then leaving to re-join the others…A mortally wounded man, unable to stand, in the middle of winter, and far from home, will he survive?

It took a long time before I could bring myself to watch this film having been told of the horrifically realistic bear-attack sequence but I am very glad I did. An amazing character study of a man who just will not give up and defying the odds to survive. This is also a story of a very dark period in American history with the war between the natives and the fur traders resulting in many dead which is certainly not glossed over here. The filmmakers have gone to great lengths to show both groups in an even-handed manner - warts and all. Yes, there is a awful lot of visceral (in every sense of the term) personal violence and the ending is not quite what you might expect leaving a somewhat melancholy feel when the credits roll. There is the triumph of the will but this is not a “happy” film and, in the end, no one really wins out in a refreshing departure from other Hollywood films.

It has to be said that DiCaprio's performance is exceptional and according to the filmmakers he really was determined to make this as real as possible, subjecting himself to many of the hardships his character endures on the screen. The film is all the more powerful for it and, after all, this film is all about Hugh Glass so a compelling performance is essential.

Disturbing, violent but an amazing story made even more amazing with DiCaprio's performance though slightly over-long with an “excess” of story.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-11-13

Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Studio: New Regency Productions

Year: 2015

Length: 156 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure