Monday, December 26, 2016

Film Review: The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a cinematic achievement."

Frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) fights for survival and vengeance after being mauled by a bear and being left for dead by his own hunting team...

The Revenant is an epic Western film with a rich character-focused plot. I won't go deep into detail for this review, though. I want to avoid spoilers and I'm sure you don't want to read a +1,000-word review. (Or, do you?) Anyway, the plot follows Glass, an experienced frontiersman with a complex past. He lives for his son, Hawk, and for his work. After being attacked by an Arikara war party, Glass and his group are forced to take a detour. During said detour, Glass is mauled by a bear and left close to death. Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a grizzled trapper who has become flustered by the attacks, decides to stay behind with Glass. However, Fitzgerald's intentions are not quite pure. What follows is an epic quest for survival, vengeance, and redemption. It all leads to a powerful ending.


The Revenant is a great film. Its sense of adventure is magnificent. I say it often in reviews for films like this, but I have to say it again: you don't see true adventure films like this nowadays. Its sense of scale, whether it be an epic raid or surprising fall from a high cliff, is superb. It constantly one-ups itself. This tale of vengeance and self-discovery isn't particularly blatant, but it is compelling when you look beyond the surface – and I like that. My only real complaint comes from its large runtime. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind long films – I love movies like The Godfather and Scarface – but this film has a few rough patches. By rough, I mean: there are some unnecessarily slow moments that slow the pace. It's already a fairly slow paced film to begin with, too.

The acting is superb. Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a fantastic performance as Glass. He really becomes this character, and that makes the film's themes so much more effective. Tom Hardy, who was splendid in Locke, is also spectacular in this film. In fact, I'd argue Hardy delivered the best performance in this movie. The film was beautifully shot. The cinematography is gorgeous. The fluid camerawork is spectacular, really keeping you engaged. The film was written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Iñárritu also directs. The direction, especially during its large scale scenes, is impressive. The writing is also strong. I had some issues with the pacing, but it doesn't spoil the movie – it just makes it feel a little longer than it should have been.

Overall, The Revenant is a fantastic movie. From its superb direction to its stellar performances, from its beautiful cinematography to its seamless camerawork, The Revenant is a cinematic achievement. It may often feel a bit bloated, but it ultimately delivers a mesmerizing experience. It's worth watching, whether you're a fan of the genre or not.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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