The Revenant Review: A Cold-Blooded, Hard-Boiled Epic

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The Revenant is an over-dramatic survival story that teeters on self-indulgent. It’s also one of the best films of the year.

Alejandro G. Inarritu’s follow up to Birdman is a stylish revenge epic that, despite its flaws, manages to be enthralling start to finish. The cinematography is instantly gorgeous, ripping us through a brutal opening battle between frontiersmen and Native Americans. In fact, at first, it seems a little too gorgeous. Birdman‘s greatest flaw was how its style completely subverted its story and became a distraction. The Revenant opens with the same problem, but quickly steers itself away, only coming off as masturbatory in one other scene before settling into a much more natural, but still beautiful, aesthetic.

The story follows Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he tries to get himself and his half-Native American son through the harsh conditions of a mountain range in Montana. Among their company is also John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a harsh fellow with no real morals. He doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Glass, to the point that after Glass is injured in a vicious bear attack (perhaps the film’s most striking sequence), Fitzgerald buries him alive unbeknownst to the rest of the company.

With Glass crawling out from under the dirt, DiCaprio gets to spend the rest of the film doing what he does best: acting his ass off. At just over two and a half hours, The Revenant should feel long but doesn’t, largely thanks to DiCaprio’s appropriately larger-than-life performance coupled with the heavy drama rung from the story. Sure, the film ends up occasionally straying into being goofy for how serious it is. But Inarritu knows this, smartly establishing a tone that can handle some hard-boiled moments and appropriate over-acting. This is an epic that wants to be so raw that it’s ridiculous, a desire it achieves right off the bat. It makes for one of the most exciting, artistic, and overall unique films of 2015. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

One Response to The Revenant Review: A Cold-Blooded, Hard-Boiled Epic

  1. Wesley says:

    Hardy and Leo are on the same level here…superb!

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