Movie Review: THE REVENANT (2015)

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the_revenant_posterTHE REVENANT (USA 2015) ****Top10
Directed by Alejando G. Iñárritu

Review by Gilbert Seah

Mexican director Alejandro Iñárritu’s (AMORES PERROS, 21 GRAMS, BABEL and last year’s BIRDMAN) THE REVENANT is a no-holds barred almost 3-hour wilderness adventure complete with all the violence of the wild west frontier set in the 1820’s. If one does not have the stomach for the grisly, avoid at all costs.

The film is based on the life of frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) based on a 2002 novel of the same name by Michael Punke. The plot of the film can be summarized in one line, remarkable considering the length of the film. Hugh Glass is left for dead by his fellow travellers after a vicious bear attack and subsequently seeks revenge on them for abandoning him.

The story contains a few subplots, like the one involving his quest for revenge. One of his fellow travellers is John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a vicious, hardened criminal who ends up killing Glass’s son. Another youth, Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) is a good hearted drawn into the drama.

The film begins with a 15-minutes attack of the Indians on the fur trappers. It is an extremely violent segment, inspired no doubt by the similar lengthy beginning segment of the D-Day landing in Steven Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Both sides suffer heavy casualties. Glass, Fitzgerald, his son and Andrew escape with a few others before the crucial bear attack.

The bear attack sequence is no less violent and occurs not once but twice in all its horror. Silly rumours by some press describe the scene as a bear rape but one thing for sure is that there is no love in this attack.

Despite the simple plot, there are a few details that occur so fast that they are difficult to follow. But these are not essential to appreciating Iñárritu’s film.

Director Iñárritu is a well respected artist who have proven himself apt at working with different genres including Hollywood drama as in last year’s acclaimed BIRDMAN. In THE REVENANT, he workers with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, together creating some of the most stunning images seen on screen this year. One has the men crossing the top of a water fall, another running across the shallow waters of tall trees and another at the film’s climax during a chase when an avalanche can be observed in the background. One can question the purpose of these, as the waterfall and avalanche have nothing to do with the story. But Iñárritu has earned his artistic licence to indulge in such excesses. But a few of his traits like the beginning chase camera shots used in AMORES PERROS are duplicated here in the chase scenes in THE REVENANT.

The performances of the entire cast is nothing short of superb. DiCaprio and Hardy excel, and credit should be given to these artists for working under the extreme conditions as shown on screen.

THE REVENANT succeeds admirable in being a stunning looking violet wilderness adventure. The film comes complete with a satisfactory ending, a fight between hero and villain with some spiritual highlights thrown in for good measure.

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