Not since Mel Gibson put poor ol’ Caviezel through the endless whips and chains as Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ have we seen one man being put through umpteen ways of nearly being killed. In fact, I am sure Hugh Glass, DiCaprio’s character, dies at several points in the movie. There’s not much distinction between that and hallucination, for my money.
The Revenant is set in 1823, where a bunch of furriers are scaling the nether regions of deepest, coldest terrain to hunt and kill animals for their fur. Along for the ride if Tom Hardy, torn straight out of the Penguin Guide to Bad Guys Who Love Money series, and Domhnall Gleeson who’s the arbiter of everyone’s safety. Leo’s son is along for the ride.
It’s not long before Leo gets mauled to tits by an angry bear and left for dead by his gang. Hardy commits an indefensibly predictable/silly/nasty* act and hightails it off back to safety. Leo can barely move, and for the remaining two-and-a-half week run time, he’ll get kicked and punched, buried alive, dive off a cliff on horseback and – in the film’s strangest moment – enact his favourite scene from Freddy Got Fingered and spend the night inside a horse carcass.
Alejandro González Iñárritu is the director once again of what is surely going to win Leo his best actor Oscar. Birdman was my favourite film of 2015. Now, with The Revenant, we can see his distinct trademark style; the roving camera that likes to seamlessly blend all sorts of action and intrusive closeups to draw attention away from the machinery. The cinematography is astounding, considering they only used natural light.
Less astounding is the length of time it takes to cram this survivalist fable, along with its incessant insistence of shoehorning what can only be described as the Guy Ritchie version of existentialism (remember Revolver?) into the narrative to underscore the fact that the Glass character needs to survive in the face of loss and extreme weather conditions. It could have been done in a clean 120 minutes. Alejandro wants his cake and, not only eats it, but buys another and punches it down his own throat.
There’s an undeniable gritty and raw sense of machismo in The Revenant. It’s no more deep than your average revenge movie of the eighties. But, there you have it – only on the big screen will you be immersed (I’m sure it’ll lose something in *other* avenues of screening) – it’s loud, it’s cold and it’s biting… and the 150+ minute run time will only add to the survivalist, endurance-soaked nature of the content. If (like me) you’ve spent a large portion of your adult life wanting to see Leonardo DiCaprio being repeatedly twatted, then this is the film for you.
Author: Andrew Mackay
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