The Revenant (2015): One Who Has Returned, as if from the Dead

Posted: February 21, 2016 in Adventure, Drama, Thriller
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revenantOut on a task to collect pelts for sale back to his people, Captain Andrew Henry’s crew gets attacked by the Arikara tribe. Losing most of his men in the escape, they are left to hide their haul and get back to the safety of their outpost to wait out the winter storms. During the return, Hugh Glass is attacked by a bear and near death. The group attempts to carry him back but chooses to leave a small group behind to watch for his recovery or seemingly eventual death. John Fitzgerald hangs back with the other two volunteers, including Glass’s half-Native American son. When Fitzgerald gets tired of waiting for Glass’s condition to take a turn in either direction, his desperation leaves Glass half-buried in a ditch and his son left for dead. Struggling to fight for life, Hugh must find the strength to recover from the bear attack, make it back to the outpost, and enact his revenge on Fitzgerald.

Beautiful Cinematography: If there is one thing that this film has over nearly every other film of 2015, it is the cinematography. The landscapes are vast, bleak, and haunting. Watching the film, you can feel the chill of the deep winter and the threats of both the wildlife and the competing groups of survivors. The bleakness takes things to an extra level that Winter’s Bone had similarly attempted to achieve.

Minimal Dialogue, Maximum Acting: With lead actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, there was certainly the potential for some truly gripping conflict. The conflict definitely existed, but there were very few actual lines acted by DiCaprio. Instead, the bulk of his role was to display the harshness of the bleak winter and the dangerous terrain. He convincingly carries the burden of his injuries and the dangers of the world around him. More interesting was the performance by Tom Hardy. It almost had the feeling of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, but it also carried the more appropriate feeling of the film’s time and environment.

Long and Deep Works…Part of the Time: The action and drama in this film are intense but not consistently displayed on-screen. When there are moments like the bear attack or the initial conflict with the Arikara, the battles are beautifully choreographed. In between those moments, there are long, drawn out scenes for travel that are reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings traveling through Middle Earth. There is certainly more drama with the battling against injury, but there are also very quiet moments which could have been cut significantly shorter to the same effect.

Final Verdict: While this clearly seems like a true Oscar winner, it is likely a bit overrated based on simply completing a checklist of what Oscar voters want to see. Even so, the cinematography is fantastic and the concept is certainly something that is not nearly as common in the current film landscape.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5

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