The Revenant (2015)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great cast and visuals

Story is lacking

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Revenant

Studio:  Anonymous Content

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 16, 2015 (Premiere)/December 25, 2015 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

revenant bear attack leonardo dicaprio

Hey, Boo Boo…how ’bout a nice delicious human?

Ambushed by an Arikara tracking party, a trapping expedition is forced to flee into the wilderness of the Rockies in the hopes of survival.  Led by Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his mixed race son Hawk (Isaiah Tootoosis), disaster strikes when Hugh is attacked by a bear.  Left by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) with Hawk, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), Glass clings to life.  Fitzgerald decides to cut his losses and kills Hawk, lies to Bridger, and leaves Glass for dead…but Glass has a will to survive and avenge the son he’s lost.

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and based on his screenplay adaptation co-written by Mark L. Smith, The Revenant is based on true events.  The story is adapted from 2002’s The Revenant:  A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke and tells the story of Hugh Glass and his attack by a bear in 1823.  Glass’s story was told before in book, TV, and the 1971 film Man in the Wilderness starring Richard Harris.  The film was critically acclaimed and led the 88th Oscar nominations winning Best Director, Best Actor (DiCaprio), and Best Cinematography with nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Hardy), Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and Hairstyle, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design.

revenant tom hardy domhall gleeson

What…I don’t seem trustworthy?

You could tell from the trailers that The Revenant was going to look fantastic, but you just didn’t know if it was going to be any good.  When the movie was finally released, that debate came up again.  Many praised the film, but others felt that it was overhyped.  It is very scary going into one of these type of films…especially when it is over two and a half hours.  The Revenant was great, but I completely understand those who feel otherwise.

The Revenant’s biggest problem is the plot.  The film really, really drags and it is also unclear how long of time is supposed to have passed.  The main plot is pretty simple: a man survives insurmountable odds to get revenge on the man who wronged him.  They added in the Arikara subplot of the kidnapped girl and the French which plays out, but it is predictable in that sense…in general, there are no real surprises in the story.  The true story of Glass had a slightly more interesting ending in which Glass tracks Fitzgerald down but doesn’t really get his revenge on Fitzgerald because he knows the punishment for killing an enlisted man would probably be death.  It could have made for a different twist in a story that needed a bit of a twist.  I do like that the plot makes it a bit murky on the actual “agreement” on the killing moment which sets up some great ending moments.

revenant hugh glass leonardo dicaprio cinematography

Worst camping trip since Deliverance…

The film is primarily an acting and visual film.  DiCaprio is probably at his best as the tormented Glass who survives set-back after set-back in his journey across the frozen wilderness.  Just when you think things are going great, another horrible thing happens to him.  Hardy is a chameleon of an actor who never appears the same way twice.  Will Poulter has a nice underplayed role as the young man who gets caught in Fitzgerald’s lies.  Domhnall Gleeson continues his strong year following Ex Machina, Star Wars:  The Force Awakens, and Brooklyn with another film nominated for Oscar.

The film is a visual feast…to an excess.  Though it was beautiful, I felt that it frequently turned to the nature aspect for a transition (stop showing me treetops!) and it kind of slowed the pace of the film.  The wilderness however is spectacular and makes you want to journey out west, but the movie’s chilling effect leaves you cold in the theater due to the snow and ice water.  The film had to be a nightmare to make because even if you are wearing a wetsuit, you are in freezing water and snow.

revenant horse scene leonardo dicaprio

If it’s good enough for Han Solo, it’s good enough for me!

In addition to the scenery, the bear attack becomes the highlight of the film.  The visuals are great and the movie combines CGI and real bear footage in a way similar to Life of Pi (who also was from the same design group).  Most bears in movies just roar and cut to close ups of the actor and fur.  Here we see how vicious and strong a bear can really be (without actually using a bear).  It feels real, it feels dangerous, and it is probably the high point of the film.

The Revenant is a problematic movie though it is good.  I can understand falling asleep (I saw it after a long day and almost did so myself), but the movie keeps up the shock and grizzly (no pun intended) moments that keep you watching as a viewer.  Honestly, the movie needs to be seen in the theater to see its greatness, but watching it at home might be better to break-up the film into more manageable bites.  You might just want to grab a horse carcass and curl up on the couch with The Revenant.

Related Links:

The 88th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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