The Revenant

RATED - (R) -156-MIN-2015


                       “The Revenant is Stunning Filmmaking from Iñárritu…Again!”

Brutal, harrowing, and stunning, (The Revenant) is another brilliant piece of filmmaking from the mind of one of the most exciting writer/directors of the last twenty years: Alejandro González Iñárritu. I am sure he will win his second Oscar for Best Director, after having just won last year for (Birdman); a film which could have been a misstep, but was fantastic. It just gets richer and better every time I watch it. Between: Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo del Toro, Mexico has produced some of the most exciting and talented group of artists in today’s film industry…It’s some kind of renaissance. They are all that good.

(The Revenant) is a revenge story, based on actual events that took place in the early 1800’s, and even thought this tale of retribution, has been told in some form or fashion many times before, Iñárritu’s take on this, and how it is executed, blew me away. He puts you right in this time and place, almost as a member of the trappers who are the main part of this movie. Filmed using mostly natural light, the cinematography by the fantastic talent: Emmanuel Lubezki is just breathtaking, and so crucial for telling this tale. Also, the haunting soundtrack by composer: Ryuichi Sakamoto adds to the somber and relentless tone of this film which will hold you for some time afterward.

Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an expert tracker in the wilderness, and has been hired by a band fur trappers led by: Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) out in the frontier. Glass, who has his half Indian son: Hawk (a very good Forrest Goodluck) with him, is a man of few words, even when he and his son are taunted by one of the men, a rather nasty man: John Fitzgerald (the always great Tom Hardy). Fitzgerald makes fun of Glass’s half Indian son, and blames him for the recent attack by a group of Arikara Indians, that has left the party of some forty men, only left with a handful to carry on. This beautifully choreographed battle alone is worth the price of admission.

Now, after having escaped on boat, they travel down river not knowing how to get back, as they are sure, that as soon they land ashore, they will be attacked again. They are sitting ducks. Elsewhere, that very same group of Indians that attacked the trappers, are looking for the chief’s daughter who, was kidnapped by men, and they are determined to find her. Glass, it is learned in a series of flashbacks, also had another child and Indian wife, that were murdered by settlers; his wife now visits him in visions throughout the film. Their deaths haunt Glass, and he is hell bent on protecting his son. Iñárritu certainly, like in his previous films, has a certain ambiguous spiritual quality that hangs over this movie also.

Back on dry land, Glass is out in the forest early one morning when he stumbles across a couple of bear cubs. What follows, is one of the most harrowing and primal sequences I have ever seen in a movie. Mom bear attacks Glass, several times, and the brilliant thing about the scene is how the camera just observes the horror that ensues, as Glass is bitten, stomped on, and thrown about. You know in your mind this is a movie, but it is utterly real, punctuated by the fogged movie screen from the bear’s snout. How they did this, or really many other moments, I have no idea, and The Revenant has scene after beautiful scene, of jaw dropping visual moments.

When Glass is found after the mauling, they wonder whether they should just shoot him and put him out of his misery. Captain Henry decides to leave behind a couple of men, who agree to take care of him for extra pay, until he either dies or heals enough to return. Unfortunately for the helpless glass and his son, Hawk who never leaves his side, one of the men is Fitzgerald… and you know what’s coming next.

What follows for the next two hours or so, is Glass literally coming back from the grave, finding a way to survive in the brutal and frigid wilderness, all the while still being terribly injured, to hunt down Fitzgerald and get his revenge. DiCaprio, who says very little for a majority of the film, and has to convey so much  emotion with sounds because of his injuries, goes full steam ahead, and it is a wonderful performance.

The story switches back and forth to Glass’s journey, Fitzgerald’s escape back, along with the young man: Jim (Will Poulter) who was tricked into leaving Glass and Hawk, the Indians looking for the woman,and a nasty group of French trappers. All these moments will come to a head, and even though the outcome may not be something we haven’t seen before; the dedication to creating a truly gripping film, by the crew and actors who braved apparently horrible conditions, makes for a movie experience you won’t soon forget. The Revenant is the best film of 2015 that I have seen.

You should see this movie on the big screen.

watch the trailer: