Movie Review: The Revenant


The Revenant stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, and Will Poulter in a story of survival and revenge. The film is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who previously directed Birdman,  and is a fictional version of the real life story of frontiersman Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) who is left for dead after a bear attack. With all the praise The Revenant has been receiving, could this finally be the film that gets Leonardo DiCaprio the Oscar for best actor? I think The Revenant just might be the one.

Had I seen The Revenant before I made my list of the top ten films of 2015, I would have definitely given it a spot on the list. Everything in this film is amazing. The cinematography looked amazing with the natural landscapes. What really adds to the movie’s aesthetic is the use of natural lighting. Most of this film takes place outdoors which means that they had very little time in each day to accomplish each scene before the sun was no longer in the correct position.  One of the defining aspects of Birdman was the film being edited to look as though it was filmed in one single shot. The Revenant was too large of a film for this to happen, but there are a number of long lasting, complex shots that are really impressive.

The performances are the best part of this film with every actor giving a great performance. Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of the best performances of the year and his career. He is incredible as Hugh Glass and is truly convincing as a survivor motivated by revenge. DiCaprio’s performance does not involve long monologues or complex narrations as his character, reasonably, has very little dialogue and much of it is in different languages. Tom Hardy also gives a great performance as Fitzgerald and allows this antagonist to stand out from most. What I was surprised about was the performance of Will Poulter. In previous movies his characters were aggravating and did not make me feel as though he was a good actor. His performance here showed me he is capable of good performances. Domhnall Gleeson is also in this movie and also performs well as the captain of the expedition.

The film centers on Hugh Glass who, after being mauled by a bear, was left for dead and is now fighting nature, and opposing fur trappers for survival in the hopes to get revenge. The bear attack scene was incredible and unyielding. I could not take my eyes away from the screen during the entire sequence. The story is gripping and very well executed. It has many exciting sequences, but The Revenant  is not a straightforward action film like Kill Bill. The film manages to always make me fear for the safety of the central character, something very few movies in recent years have been successful in doing. The film does not hold back in its visuals as well. The bear attack is brutal, and there are many more unpleasant visuals that highlight the difficulties of survival in the 19th century wilderness. The Revenant is filled with many surreal/dreamlike sections and visuals because of the injured state of Hugh Glass. Many of these really add to the film, but there are a few that seem like a bit much even though they are still nice to look at.

The Revenant is an amazing experience. All elements of this film come together amazingly. The performances, cinematography, storytelling, and action sequences all work to make a great movie. This is a film that keeps you engaged for the entire run. All the Oscars that The Revenant has been nominated for are definitely deserved. The only people who I can not recommend this film to are those who do not like the sight of blood. If you are fine with violence then you will enjoy The Revenenant, and understand why it has been getting so much praise.

Rating: One of the most Oscar-worthy films of 2015.