Wednesday 22 June 2016

The Revenant

It happened. Leo DiCaprio finally managed to get his hands on an Oscar. Did he deserve it? After watching The Revenant, I can only say yes.

Inspired by true events, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) and a group of men are exploring the wilderness, and trying to get away from a native threat. Whilst making their way to safe ground back on foot, Glass is attacked by a large bear, protecting her two cubs. He sustains horrific injuries, and the group find him just in time. With difficult terrain ahead, Captain Gleeson (played by Domhnall Gleeson, who you may remember as the Star Wars Nazi!) decides to leave Glass in the hands of John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Bridger (Will Poulter), and then the fun really begins.

One of the impressions I got from The Revenant is that a hell of a lot of thought went into its production. It’s stunning from the start –each scene is carefully thought out and detailed, and the direction is careful and calculated. It’s not just a film, but something that feels handcrafted. The active movement of the camera makes us feel like we’re really there. Although it’s unique in a lot of senses it has some similarities to some other epic films – the chilling sound throughout the film echoes There Will Be Blood, and the introductory scene seemed to have taken inspiration from Saving Private Ryan.

There’s a powerful sense of realism as well – many parts are brutal and seem so real that they can be quite hard to watch (note: don’t watch with dinner, as I regretfully did). We’ve all heard about the infamous bear scene, but it really is the sort of viewing that leaves you feeling speechless. One problem I often have with action-based movies is that the fight scenes come off as coordinated; here they weren’t like that at all, with many scenes so painfully realistic that you could almost feel the struggle. Obviously Leo is the star here – his incredible depiction of a horrifically injured man is more than Oscar-worthy. However, I was also taken aback by just how authentic Tom Hardy felt as John Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is a villainous character whose violent and unpredictable nature leaves you on edge for the whole film. It just goes to show how diverse Hardy really is as an actor – his depictions of good guys and bad guys in films are equally as awesome.

There wasn’t really much wrong with the film in the end, although there were times when I wondered just how invincible Glass was (he goes through a LOT). It wasn’t as if he just jumped back up after every bad situation though – it was equally balanced with suffering and pain, and so wasn’t really much of an issue. The dubbing on the Pawnee lines was not great, to be honest, but it didn’t affect the film that much (just don’t pay too much attention to it). Aside from that though, it really was an excellent watch – cinematically, plot-wise, and culturally. Alejandro González Iñárritu did a really great job.  

The Revenant isn’t the sort of film to leave you feeling happy when you’re done with it. It’s distressing and punishing to say the least, but so harshly real that’s hard not to get fully involved with it. Silent and slow-paced, it’s gripping the whole way through and, although you may not feel ready to watch it for a second time, the first viewing will certainly impact you.

The Revenant gets a 5/5.


Hannah Read

The Revenant at CeX

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