Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson
Run Time: 156 mins
After striking gold at the Academy Awards last year with ‘Birdman’, Alejandro González Iñárritu is back with ‘The Revenant’, a tale of revenge and suffering. ‘The Revenant’ has experienced a hard shoot, Iñárritu said it would be all well and good to film in a studio, but the film wouldn’t have the same impact. Instead, the cast and crew shot on location and experienced extreme weather conditions. This film is particularly important for Leonardo DiCaprio who is overdue for an Academy Award and should probably finally win this year. ‘The Revenant’ has received 12 Oscar nominations and is expected to win a slew of them and possibly the big awards. I found ‘Birdman’ unengaging and pretentious at times and felt in a year where there were outstanding films such as ‘Whiplash’ and particularly, ‘Boyhood’, it was a very undeserving winner.
‘The Revenant’ is a visually stunning film and it boasts many outstanding sequences. It has some excellent central performances and boasts original cinematography and an atmospheric score. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are both mesmerising here and Iñárritu has really developed as a director. The battle sequences are wonderfully crafted and there are some beautifully shot landscapes to create the film’s atmosphere. My only gripes with ‘The Revenant’ are its pacing is a little stretched at parts and its story is a little simplistic for a 156 minute running time. But the execution is where ‘The Revenant’ wows and it really is a work of art.
The acting is where ‘The Revenant’ is most likely to flourish at the Academy Awards and Leonardo DiCaprio is stunning here. DiCaprio is a fantastic actor anyway and deserved to win for ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, only he faced some fierce competition in that year in the form of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughey, the latter ultimately taking the gong. His performance in ‘The Revenant’ is a very physical one and he carries the film with just his mannerisms and pure torture that his character is put through. Tom Hardy is also very good here, perhaps not quite Oscar-worthy, but he makes for a very interesting villain. His performance too is a very physical one and his character is well-developed. The last time DiCaprio and Hardy met on-screen was in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ and they gel just as well here as they did there. The ultimate showdown between both actors in this film is breathtaking and is edge-of-the-seat entertaining. Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter are in supporting roles for this film and give sound performances.
Whilst the story is a rather simplistic for its lengthy run time, it is developed well enough so that one connects with the characters. This film is well-and-truly a revenge thriller first and a Western second. The suffering that DiCaprio’s character experiences is at times, shocking and he goes to any lengths to survive. The battle sequences are especially mesmerising, particularly at the very beginning and the mauling of DiCaprio by a bear is extremely well crafted and frightening.
Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography here is stunning and he will most likely win his third Academy Award for this. Characters are generally kept to the left side of the frame to give the audience a feel for perspective and Lubezki’s landscape shots are wonderful to behold and really bring a sense into the desperate and desolate world that one immerses themselves in. Although sadly illegible for the Academy Awards, the score by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto here is endlessly atmospheric and heartfelt. It is used sparingly, but whenever the score is used it heightens the events being portrayed on-screen. Sakamoto has recently been battling cancer so it’s a welcome return to form here and this is his first film score for an American film in a long time.
Overall, ‘The Revenant’ is a very impressive film and technically outstanding. It makes for a very satisfying watch and the combination of DiCaprio and Hardy is a match made in heaven. Iñárritu’s direction is a lot more assured here and this is complimented by an atmospheric score and beautiful cinematography. This is a much better effort compared to ‘Birdman’ which very undeservedly took the top awards last year. If this went on to win Best Picture, I would be fairly happy. ‘Room’ is the best film of the pack but it does shut out some audiences who sadly won’t appreciate it. ‘The Revenant’ is very impressive and satisfying for those who stick with it. Watch it on the biggest screen you can find!