The Revenant is truly something to behold. It’s beautifully shot and maybe even more impressively directed. This could have easily gone awry in the wrong director’s hands, but Alejandro Iñárritu makes it look too easy.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a fur trapper in the American Northwest in 1823. He and his crew are on the run after escaping a Native American ambush. One day, after going off on his own, he is attacked and savagely injured by a grizzly bear in a scene that will stay with you for a very long time. It might be one of the most intense sequences in film history. Nearly dying, he is deemed, by Tom Hardy’s character, as too risky to be carried along with them, so Hardy leaves DiCaprio to die.
The film is really long, but riveting. Not once does your mind wander to something else. Scene after scene is like nothing you’ve seen before.
This film is about revenge, but it’s also about moral decisions. It’s never preachy, but those who wish to get something out of it will. It’s hard to watch, but completely rewarding in the end. And there may have never been such a dark film that is also this beautiful to look at.
Tom Hardy, while audibly incomprehensible at times, plays grimly sadistic to perfection. From the beginning, he walks around like nothing ever bad is going to happen to him. He’s cocky, but there’s something subtle in his tone that makes you believe that he’s unsure of himself subconsciously–even though he thinks no one notices. Perhaps they don’t.
It’s a no brainer that DiCaprio has given the best performance of the year, even if just for his commitment to making his character real. The film is shot in actual freezing temperatures and throughout the entire thing you really do feel his pain–just from the piercing cold itself. He’s in a league of his own with this one.
But if we’re going to talk about commitment, we must also discuss Iñárritu’s insistence that there will be no green screen used and everything that happens will be happening for real. Last year, Iñárritu’s film Birdman won the Oscar for Best Picture. This is a step even above that. Birdman was filmed in a controlled setting. Watching The Revenant, you feel like everyone on set is playing with fire. The fact that they get a breathtaking film out of it is superbly impressive.