Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Movie Review #361: "The Revenant" (2015)

Movie"The Revenant"
Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Image Source
A group of fur trappers are attacked by the Rhee tribe, which sends the men fleeing for their lives. On the road back to their fort, their guide Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is attacked and mauled by a grizzly bear and left on the brink of death. The captain of the expedition, Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), leaves two men named Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Bridger (Will Poulter) with Hugh and his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) to care for him and bury him properly if he dies. Fearing the Rhee are closing in, Fitzgerald attempts to speed up Hugh's death and murders Hugh's son when he tries to stop him from killing his father. Leaving Hugh for dead, Fitzgerald and Bridger flee, but Hugh survives and heads after Fitzgerald to take revenge, if he can survive the trip. 

Alejandro González Iñárritu's "The Revenant" is a story about survival and revenge, but it's also much more than this. It is a gorgeous film above all else. The camerawork and cinematography executed here are breathtaking. Knowing how much we loved last year's Oscar winning film "Birdman," we had moderately high expectations for this film, and it delivered. In fact, everyone involved in this film, behind or in front of the camera, is stellar. Leonardo DiCaprio is phenomenal as Hugh Glass. The skill of this character is not found in the dialogue or delivered with impassioned speeches, but in the quiet rage that fills him. DiCaprio has been gunning for an Oscar for years, and if he doesn't get it for his performance here, we'll be shocked because he deserves it. Offering a brilliant performance and telling a story through mostly grunts and facial expressions, he owns the part of Hugh Glass, completely immersed in his role. As great as DiCaprio is, he has been hogging all of the praise, overshadowing his fellow cast member Tom Hardy's performance at every turn. Up until this year's Oscar nominations were announced, Hardy's work here had not really been recognized all that much, so we're happy he and Leo can now share the spotlight together. Hardy puts on an exceptional performance as John Fitzgerald, a trapper who does some truly despicable things, but acts in a way he believes is for the greater good and offers a better chance at survival, even if his motives are self-serving. Hardy is no stranger to the layered character and portrays Fitzgerald amazingly. He is quickly becoming our favorite actor, but unfortunately, whenever anyone talks about this movie, DiCaprio is sure to dominate the conversation first and foremost. Domhnall Gleeson also plays a big role as Captain Andrew Henry and he is very good, too. He is an actor who has really come into his own lately and has had an impressive year between this movie, "Ex Machina," "Brooklyn," and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." When these three actors are put together, the cast is wonderful.

There are some unbelievably fierce, utterly enthralling scenes in "The Revenant," chock full of edge-of-your-seat, nail biting excitement. The intensity Iñárritu garners with just the slight turn of his camera is both impressive and something we crave as lovers of cinema. In its beauty, this film is brutal, and in its brutality, it is somehow beautiful. It's carnal, primal, and animalistic in more ways than one. Saying it is only a revenge film is not exactly accurate, though some might miss the bigger picture here. It's poetic, almost an ode to nature and all it possesses, and ode to and about basic humanity. Many don't realize it doesn't get much better than Iñárritu's direction. There are directors, and then, there is Iñárritu, who is in a class all his own when he picks up a camera. However, since he tends to favor lingering camera shots, this also means there are some long lulls where very little is going on on screen. Even in scenes where essentially nothing is happening, the shots are still gorgeous and alluring to look at, like a painting come to life. We can feel the cold weather, the harsh conditions, and the stark brutality of life all in one movie; we long for films that immerse us so deeply as it's more of an experience than just a motion picture. These elongated scenes are intentionally and methodically paced to emphasize the vast size of the wilderness and accentuate the distance traveled by Glass to find the man who murdered his son. Conversely, this allows audience members to notice how long this movie actually is. From a technical aspect, though, "The Revenant" is near perfection in its execution, both in front of and behind the camera, even if the story is rather simplistic.

My Rating: 9.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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