The Revenant

‘Classics’ Review: The Revenant

by C. Palmer

*** 3 Stars

The true best actor of this film is undoubtedly Tom Hardy, whose hateful character is perfectly portrayed to inspire complete antipathy from the viewer – he was an absolute joy to watch.

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Synopsis: After being mauled by a bear and being left behind by his men, Hugh Glass is left to fend for himself in 1820’s South Dakota.

From the director whose name I don’t know how to pronounce but whose filmography includes best picture winner Birdman, it is clear to say that Iñárritu is an artist in modern filmmaking. What The Revenant lacks in narrative originality, it more than makes up for in its fantastic production. Even from the opening scene, we see precise and meticulous choreography in the action, extended tracking shots that are reminiscent of Scorsese and well thought out shot compositions. It’s hard not to feel like you’re involved in the battle as we follow every detail in the battle sequence, being visually bombarded by gore and grit.

My feelings on this film are conflicted as it is so visually impressive but rather lackluster in its story. Once again, we follow the fable of ‘based on real events’, despite most of the narrative being fictional or amended to suit mainstream audiences’ wishes. Following an obvious three-act structure, the screenplay barely defies narrative convention. To be honest, I found it hard to care for Glass in the first hour as he is so passive in the story (he literally just lays down and waits to heal) but, when the second act began, it became easier to connect with him.

Looking like he’d come straight from the set of The Exorcist, scarred and slashed, Leo won his first best actor Oscar for his role as Glass, which is surprising since he isn’t given much to do except grunt every now and then. The true best actor of this film is undoubtedly Tom Hardy, whose hateful character is perfectly portrayed to inspire complete antipathy from the viewer – he was an absolute joy to watch. Though his thick accent did leave me to have to whack the subtitles on, Hardy’s character is an over-the-top but somewhat reasonable antagonist for the story.

In short, The Revenant is a great movie that I will never revisit. Its technical aspects left me satisfied but also disappointed by the potential of what the narrative could’ve been, if it didn’t try so hard to please the masses. Sadly, the sluggish and thin plot means that I would not recommend this film to anyone who isn’t either a fan of Tom Hardy or production-heavy flicks.

The Revenant is currently available on Netflix and was rated 15 by the BBFC.

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