<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson
Running Time: 2 hours 36 minutes
Yet another Oscar formula film that simply uses nature to do half the work of making every frame look splendid but does very little by way of an original story.
Should Leonardo DiCaprio win a Best Actor Academy Award for The Revenant? It’s been so long, he deserves it, the Oscars hate him, you may say. But trust me, he doesn’t deserve it for this film. And if you think that just because he had to brave the freezing cold ice and water of this utterly gorgeous real location (since the director didn’t want CGI) then you are foolish. He’s paid millions to go through all of that and it’s not what’s behind the scenes that should win them an Oscar, it’s their performance on screen. And if barely talking, just shivering and groaning and falling and getting up and walking is enough to win an Oscar then we’d all be winning them.
Here, read this article: Oscar voter destroys The Revenant: ‘A film in which Leonardo DiCaprio keeps falling down and getting up’ via the Independent UK. But hang on, finish my review first!
Set in the lavish backdrop of some remote location far away filled with snow-drenched mountains, bubbling broad rivers and trees stretching out to touch the sky, The Revenant opens on a group of men who are overrun by Native American Indians out to kill them since one of their chief’s daughter’s has been kidnapped by the ‘white men’. Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fur trapper who helps these men to escape but in the process he gets mauled by a mother bear. In all fairness, the idiot was trying to shoot her bear cubs, when he should’ve been more concerned about getting away. There is a ridiculously long scene with a CGI bear (so much for the ‘no CGI in my film’ Mr Director!) ripping Glass and then Glass shooting the bear instead of just staying put when the bear has gone off. So he gets torn up a lot more and instead of staying still he pulls out a knife and fights the bear some more. By then you pretty much know he’s going to have a tough time out there.
Almost on the brink of death, he is left with his half-American Indian (Native, not from India) son Hawk, the young Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) and the not-so-nice Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) who just wants Glass to die so he can get out of there. The treacherous Fitz finds a way, leaving Glass to fend for himself. And so the long arduous journey of this guy, who at first seemed very adept at survival and tracking but suddenly doesn’t know how to get back home, begins as he fights off more animals and eats them to survive or hides in them after falling off very high cliffs. All very improbable, unless it’s supposed to be a fantasy film. It’s all very pretty of course, with beautiful shots of white snowy vistas and sprawling trees against a moonlit night. Kudos to… umm God for creating all of that and he certainly deserves an Oscar. The film crews who went there and probably made a mess of the surroundings, maybe not so much.
The American Indians keep killing people, the white men kill people, the French (yes, they’re in there too) just fuck American Indian women and eat. And Mr Glass just trudges along ultimately hobbling to get his revenge on the man who left him for dead. Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy is probably the only good character in the whole film. First, I couldn’t even recognise Tom Hardy and he should get an Oscar for his physical and verbal transformation. His character is nasty, mean and a much more interesting person than the rest of them put together.
So does Hollywood think that just putting a beautiful location in the backdrop will make up for lazy storytelling? Is the fact that the actors had to endure all the cold and fight sequences in the snow supposed to make us gape in awe at all they had to endure while shooting? We’re totally supposed to forget the millions they made for the movie and the mansions they went back to after filming, are we? No, I’ve seen far better films, far better performances and more stirring stories than this and I refuse to be fooled by this formula film for the Oscars. Hopefully, you won’t be either.