Every year a handful of movies get released worldwide that people consider average at best. Although many are a fine way to pass the time, we can agree Hollywood isn’t what it used to be. However, there is always at least one movie per year that shows what film is capable of. This year, that film is The Revenant.
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest directed feature takes audiences to a sorrowful and haunting vision of 1820s Montana. Based on The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke, the story follows the painful journey of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), left for dead and stranded alone to face enemies such as nature, animals and his fellow man.
With an ominous tone, beautiful cinematography and the right directing chops, Iñárritu and his crew were able to deliver an experience that made the audience believe they were with the characters. Through every detail, especially the way the characters speak, you get the feeling Iñárritu and screenwriter Mark L. Smith did their homework when bringing the 1820s back to life. This movie might as well be the closest thing we will get to time travel.
For the causal moviegoer, there is no sunshine and rainbows to look forward to in this film. The movie starts exactly the way it needs to: with a Saving-Private-Ryan-like sequence where characters are slaughtered all over the screen. It goes by quickly, and is enough to warn viewers of the kind of story and world in which the film takes place. Since it is also technically a revenge story, don’t expect it to play out like a blockbuster starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
If you have never gasped, grit your teeth or shut your eyes in horror at a movie, The Revenant might finally change that. There are more than two scenes where you’ll feel like you’re in the shoes of these characters and able to relate to the pain they are going through. The most notable scene in the movie is one where DiCaprio’s character fights a bear and, with the help of some beautiful special effects, might be the grittiest thing you’ll see. Even if we know it is a fake bear, there will most likely be a moment where you’ll want to look away. Since the story takes place in the north, you will want to be wearing a jacket all the way through.
And with the help of memorable performances, you will feel like you are meeting real people. Of course the one actor who steals the show is DiCaprio and, like before, he deserves the praise. In another incredible performance, DiCaprio makes the audience feel the pain his character experiences, whether it is for the loss of a character or surviving a flowing river of freezing cold water. The entire cast brings their A-game to the table. Tom Hardy proves he is one of the most talented actors in the business with a grisly voice and facial expressions suited for film. Hardy will make you love to hate his character. An honorable mention goes to Forrest Goodluck, though he’s only in the film for a short time, because he delivers wonderful chemistry playing DiCaprio’s son.
The Revenant is a testimony to the art of filmmaking. You are transported into another world and feel the characters’ motivations and struggles. Along the way, you also come to learn the common nature of what it is to be human. The Revenant not only shows us the magic of movies, but precisely why we go to the cinema: for an experience like no other.