The Revenant is being previewed as a real-life revenge film with Leonardo DiCaprio's 1820s frontiersman hunting down the man (Tom Hardy) who betrayed him, however the film is more of a survival story about life in this tough time in America, and the harsh environment the men conquering these lands had to endure. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu gives the audience a beautifully shot glimpse of this brutal life the members of the fur trade called everyday life. The Oscar-winning director immerses the audience into the world of The Revenant that will cause you to shiver at just the thought of being exposed to this unforgiving weather, even though you're sitting in a theater with the thermostat set on 72.
The man at the center of this tale of survival is Leonardo DiCaprio as guide Hugh Glass in The Revenant. Hugh's job is to protect the fur trappers from Indians on the warpath and the beasts of the forest that won't think twice about making the men of the work camp their dinner. DiCaprio drops his pretty boy looks and gives movie-goers a raw performance. He plays a man left for dead after an accident drops him on death's door. DiCaprio will make you cringe as he grits his teeth and crawls on all fours fighting for his life in hostile territory, surviving by any means including eating raw Bison meat (it's just as gross as it sounds). It's a performance that screams of Oscar bait, you can see the sacrifices DiCaprio made physically and mentally to bring this role to life in The Revenant.
DiCaprio may give one of the better performances of his career, but that doesn't mean The Revenant is pleasant to watch. His character Hugh Glass spends a good portion of the film gargling up blood from wounds and crawling on his elbows over the snowy landscape. The Revenant is a frustrating watch, at times when you just want to yell at Hugh to get up. Iñárritu takes his time showing you what one man will go through to get revenge. The film lives up to the saying revenge is a dish best served cold, and because of that angle the film doesn't pick up until the final act. For the most part the audience is left with a guy moving slowly across the terrain, which can make for a sluggish pace over the two-hour and thirty minute plus running time.
Even with the sluggish middle act, which may leave some audience members exasperated, The Revenant is a film that still deserves respect. The cinematography is eerily gorgeous at times and director Alejandro González Iñárritu throws in a few well-done action sequences that will have you on the edge of your seat while hiding your eyes from the blood splatter. Make no mistake though, The Revenant is all about DiCaprio as he leaves his blood, sweat and tears on the screen with his role as a damaged father out for blood on the old American frontier. I believe The Revenant gives DiCaprio his best chance at earning his first Oscar, but we'll have to wait and see.
Overall, I give The Revenant 3 out 4 stars.
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