Based on a story that was based on true events, The Revenant is a violent, gory and pretty difficult to watch film set in the early 1800s in the wilds of what is now the United States. Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his Pawnee son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) is working with a crew of trappers to get skins when they are attacked by a group of Native Americans who kill most of their group. Hugh is to lead them out to safety, but unfortunately (depicted in a most graphic manner) he is attacked by a bear. Eventually, the man in charge, Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) decides that he needs to leave Glass behind – and asks for volunteers to stay. Glass is protected by his son as well as another young trapper, Bridger (Will Poulter) and the bad guy in the flick, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Sure enough, Fitzgerald (FIRST SPOILER) kills Hawk and convinces Bridger to leave Glass for dead. But he’s not, and over an increasingly unbelievably insane series of events, he returns to seek revenge on Fitzgerald.
First up – it is stunning and extremely graphic. In fact, I would have not been surprised if I ended up with bruises on my face from hiding from the screen. Intense and ugly, which is exactly what those times were probably like. To go cold, or even freezing, for months and months at a time, and never properly dry, and the stench of these men! Phew! (MEGA SPOILERS COMING) What I could believe was that it was possible for a man to survive this attack – he would not be well, but such a freaky thing, yeah, ok. Perhaps the film just tried to pack too much in – I could believe surviving the attack by the Native tribe, I could believe surviving the bear attack (just). I was a bit suss about the fact that he had not had anything to eat or drink (apart from the odd sip of snow) for days yet his body was managing to heal and get stronger by the minute. I could even believe his trip down the river and over some fairly intense white water rapids. But when he outrode an attacking tribe on a tired horse, jumped it off a cliff, fell into a massive tree and came out unscathed… that was where the film lost me. That was my bullshit meter pushed to the limit. And from there, I didn’t care what happened, and I was really saddened by that, because it was so close to being what I thought could be a decent representation of the times and the horror. It was also ruined for me by the whole cheesey revenge story. I know that they wanted to give him a strong reason to fight for survival, but really? Seeking revenge for a dead son. How incredibly clichéd.
DiCaprio is up for an Oscar, and I say cool. Despite hating the film by the end and being annoyed by the plot, I thought he was extremely impressive in this. Oh, and if you want a laugh, read this review from Jezebel – it’s written by a bear. Hilair.
The Revenant won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Director – Motion Picture (Alejandro Inarritu) and was nominated for Best Original Score – Motion Picture. It was also nominated for BAFTAs for Best Film, Best Director (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu), Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Best Original Music.