Movie review: “The Revenant”

The Revenant movie poster

COURTESY | 20th Century Fox

BY IVAN FLORES

Contributor

 

“The Revenant”, directed by Alejandro Iñárritu, is a biographical film about an American frontiersman, Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Glass’ Wild West is the mountainous and forested landscape of Montana and South Dakota. This Western film breaks from the romanticized stereotypes of Indians and cowboys brawling in the later half of the 19th century. Instead, Iñárritu’s juxtaposes the Enlightenment ideals, which shaped Glass’ world, with the reality of life on the frontier.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass

COURTESY | 20th Century Fox

Hugh Glass and a pseudo-military band of American fur traders with leader Captain Andrew, played by Henry Domhnall Gleeson, are ambushed as they camp by Arikara Native Americans. As the survivors flee, Glass is separated from the group and stumbles into a grizzly bear and her cubs. The mother mauls Glass before he manages to kill her. With Glass badly injured and the Arikaras on the party’s trail, Henry decides to leave him behind under the care of Glass’ son Hawk played by Forrest Goodluck, John Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy, and Jim Bridger played by Will Poulter, until Glass recovers or dies. Driven by greed, Fitzgerald kills Hawk and tricks Bridger into abandoning Glass. Left for dead, Glass begins an Odyssey and becomes the revenant- the one who returns.

There is no black and white in “The Revenant.” Iñárritu is careful not to portray people as heroes or villains. Instead, he exposes the complexity of a person’s desire to survive to the point where an individual almost loses his humanity. It’s almost as if he’s begging the question, “What is this accomplishing?” Stripping away philosophical and romantic baggage, his answers allow the audience to decide for themselves.

Besides being thought-provoking, “The Revenant” is a good movie. There is plenty of action and suspense. The cinematography is beautiful and breathtaking. DiCaprio’s character hardly speaks English throughout the entire film, but it doesn’t get in the way of understanding him or his ordeal. If anything, it adds to the wide range of DiCaprio’s acting abilities. DiCaprio received a Golden Globe for “Best Actor” in a Drama movie at 73rd Golden Globe Awards, earlier this month. All of the characters are well-developed, especially Fitzgerald, who is perhaps the most controversial figure in the film. Oh, and the bear ought to get an Oscar. The mauling scene was very convincing.

“The Revenant” is definitely worth watching. It’s a fantastic story, and, what’s more, it’s based loosely on a true one – the tale traveling by word of mouth. Perhaps outdoorsmen and historians will frown about certain aspects of the film, but whatever flaws there are pale in comparison with the things that are good about the movie. Besides, it’s not a sequel. Check it out.

 

Grade: A

Genre: Western

Runtime: 2 hours 36 minutes

Rating: R

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