A film that leaves you still shaking a day after you’ve seen it is worthy of any award nomination it receives. Nominated for several Academy Awards this year, including Best Picture and Best Actor, Leonardo Dicaprio, “The Revenant” is a great way to kick off 2016 for the world of cinema.
After spending the day hiking on local nature trails, seeing this film in the theater was a last minute decision by my friend and me. Neither of us knew much about the film, other than it was nominated for a handful of Oscars and that wonderful Leo played the main role. So we went, and my God, were we in for a ride.
The film starts out with a series of vague flash backs, giving us insight into where Leo’s character, Hugh Glass, comes from. It then continues into present day, showing how Glass and his half-blood Native American son are part of a pelt-gathering group during the 1800s. From there, the rest of the supporting characters are introduced, and we are given a good glimpse into their personalities and goals. John Fitzgerald, played by the amazing Tom Hardy, is the main supporting character that immediately catches the audience’s attention; it may be his gruel Southern accent, the burns on his head, or the shear craziness laced in his vibrant eyes.
It is quickly established that there is tension among the men, especially towards Glass’s son, Hawk, and Fitzgerald. Shortly after the character introductions, the action begins, and Glass finds himself and his fellow men caught in a battle with Native Americans.
With the survivors of the attack, Glass continues to venture towards civilization to make profit on the furs they have collected. However, things take a turn when Glass comes into contact with a mama bear and her two cubs. You can probably imagine how this ended, with Glass getting brutally mauled by a bear.
I want to take a moment to appreciate how realistic this animal attack is. At first, I thought that the camera was just going to show us Glass getting a few swipes, and being thrown into a tree or two; but oh no, the production team gives us a full blown, bloody, gruesome bear mauling. The entire attack lasts for a couple solid minutes, chilling our spines with the sounds of Glass’s bones breaking, his skin ripping, and his blood splattering across the snow. When I saw Leo’s performance in this scene, I instantly knew he would be a hard contender to beat in this year’s Oscar race. Forget showing shear pain of freezing in the waters above the sinking Titanic, there was a point when I forgot I was in a theater, and I thought that Leo was legit being mauled by a bear. This movie will make you think twice about bringing bear spray on a camping trip, that’s for sure.
So once Glass’s troop finds his flesh-torn body, they quickly stitch up what they can and continue with their quest. Yet winter in the West mountains is becoming too harsh for them to continue carrying him, and they’re crossed with a decision of who will keep going, and who will take a few more days and take their time with Glass. Hawk, another boy, and Fitzgerald volunteer, and are soon left in the snowy wilderness with Glass in their hands. Sure enough, though, Tom Hardy embraces his role as a vile, greedy merchant, and betrays Glass by leaving him alone in the wild to fend for himself. With a strong desire for vengeance and the will to survive, Glass fights his wounds and sets his own destiny to destroy Fitzgerald for what he had done to him.
Honestly, I cannot tell you what happens next because it would spoil everything, but HOLY BUTTERFINGERS, THIS FILM. First, I want to take a moment to thank the soul who brought this movie to life, and who gathered the perfect team to do so. This is by far the best performance I have ever seen Leonardo Dicaprio play. Let’s just say that he doesn’t do much talking in the film, so he must convey his emotions through minor sounds and expressions. The fact that I forgot that that was Leo trudging through the snow and instead only saw Hugh Glass himself, that’s when you know an actor is doing their job well. There was no doubt in my mind that Glass was going through hell, and I felt I was right with him on the journey.
Now it’s time to dive into probably one of the best supporting roles I have seen in a long time: Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald. We know him as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and he was great in that. However, I don’t think anyone knew just how engrossed he could become in a character until his role as John Fitzgerald. Honestly, while watching this film, I compared Hardy’s skill to that of Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker. There is one scene—don’t worry, I won’t throw out any spoilers—where Fitzgerald is talking about a past life event in the light of a campfire. You can see the ruthlessness and passion for blood flicker in his eyes alone. Tom Hardy knows how to drain the blood from his audience’s faces. He’s a great guy off camera, but on camera, he knows how to make your hair stand on the back of your neck.
To wrap this review up, I just want to shed light on how beautiful the film looks in general. There are great cinematography moments throughout the narrative, which encompasses the pure beauty of untouched Western land. A++ to the production design team. For the story itself, there was rarely a dull moment. The movie was long, so towards the end there was a lull moment when I wanted it to end, but the film quickly granted those wishes and gave me an ending that was both heart wrenching yet satisfying.
I do recommend everyone to see this film. However, if you are squeamish when it comes to gore, I would say proceed with caution, there is a lot of blood and guts. Also, to parents out there, I strongly recommend honoring the R rating for this movie, for there are a lot of intense moments that are better suited for an audience 17 and above. But overall, I’d give this movie five stars, plus one for bringing awareness and representation of Native Americans. Amazing job to the cast and crew of “The Revenant,” and may the Academy Awards be ever in your favor.
For a review with SPOILERS, click here!