"The Revenant" stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, and Will Poulter. Released in limited theaters on December 25, 2015, followed by a wide release on January 8, 2016, the film is about a frontiersman who seeks revenge against his own men who left him for dead.
The film is directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who also directed the Oscar-winning film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). It is inspired by the real life experiences of frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass, and is based in part on the novel by Michael Punke. Inarritu really impressed me with Birdman back in 2014 and I was curious to see how he was going to handle this follow-up. When I first saw the trailer for this film, I figured that it may be possible that this could be DiCaprio's year where he can finally claim his first Oscar win. But the real question is: is it any good?
The film takes place in the 1820s, where modern technology wasn't even invented yet and people have to rely on sticks, guns, and knives in order to survive the harsh wintery weather. DiCaprio portrays Hugh Glass, a man who goes on a revenge-seeking quest after one of his own men, John Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy), killed his son (Forrest Goodluck) and left him for dead. DiCaprio has shown some great talent in his film career. This film proves that he's not slowing down anytime soon. His performance was not only based on his dialogue, but also his actions on how he survives the pain from being mauled by a huge bear and the harsh weather. My guess is that he's providing some strong competition in the Oscar race this year. Tom Hardy also did a great job playing Fitzgerald, although sometimes he sounds like he's trying to imitate Jeff Bridges. The direction was also grand in terms of how realistic the violence is and how believable the characters were. One of the biggest highlights of the film was the Oscar-worthy cinematography. This film offered some breath-taking long shots that made me feel I was a part of the experience myself. From the bear attack sequence to the final 20 minutes that caught my eye, this is the best use of cinematography I've seen since Sicario.
One of the things that prevented me from loving this film was the length. There were a couple of dialogue-driven scenes that could've been a bit shorter in order to keep the audience's attention. I also believe that the relationship between Glass and his son could've been a bit stronger. It's very sad to see the son die, but it would've been more emotional if we explored more of that relationship. Another flaw I would like to point out (although I wouldn't consider it a flaw, more like an observation) was that the entire film was depressing. The fact that it seems depressing was because of the execution of its concept, the realistic violence, its settings and lightings, and the musical score. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, it's more like a warning to those who are planning on seeing it.
Overall, "The Revenant" doesn't have that many qualities to gain 'best movie' status, but thanks to DiCaprio's strong performance, its brilliant cinematography, and its unique, yet brutal and depressing, direction, it is still a worthy addition to Inarritu's filmography. It's worth recommending to those who are fans of DiCaprio or Inarritu's filmography.