FILM REVIEW: The Revenant

The Revenant (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, 2015)

If Leo doesn’t win his Oscar next month people will collectively lose their shit. After his sensational work in The Wolf of Wall Street he goes all out in The Revenant. Battling freezing temperatures and hazardous terrain during filming, he carries a 2.5 hour film without much in the way of dialogue. It’s no mean feat.

I'll win this thing if it kills me.
I’ll win this thing if it kills me.

Based on the experiences of fur trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) in the American wilderness in 1823, The Revenant is a revenge tale that pits Glass against a whole host of enemies – Native Americans, his fellow men, nature, his own thoughts, and a grizzly bear. No, he doesn’t get raped by the bear, contrary to what the internet will tell you. But to say he suffers a fair bit would be an understatement. If you want to know the entire plot, watch trailer 2. (My advice would be don’t, except you’ll probably see it at the cinema so you’re screwed).

"Sweet dreams... about the Oscar I'm gonna get"
“Sweet dreams… about the Oscar I’m gonna get”

The Revenant is brutal, intense, and bloody hard-going. It’s not for the faint-hearted, although the reviewer that tweeted “forget women seeing this” is a moron and should obviously be ignored. In storyline The Revenant is nothing like Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s previous work, Birdman, and his career deserves to be observed with fascination based on these diverse choices. You wouldn’t expect anything less than excellence from his cinematographer Emmauel Lubezki (who has won the Oscar two years running for Birdman and Gravity) and he doesn’t disappoint here. He captures the beauty of a harsh landscape (filmed mostly in Canada) and together with editor Stephen Mirrione creates some spectacular moments that will leave viewers’ mouths agape. Dialogue is sparse but the strength of the film’s performances and the visuals make up for this.

Tom Hardy pulling focus
Tom Hardy pulling focus

You’d be wrong to assume that the film is all about Leo, because he is supported by arguably the best actor of today, Tom Hardy. The man can do no wrong. He doesn’t seem to stop, with The Revenant his fifth film of 2015. He utterly transforms yet again in the role of antagonist John Fitzgerald; he is an extraordinary talent. Domhnall Gleeson also returns for his fourth film of the year – surely no one thought Bill Weasley would keep getting so much work, but it’s a credit to him.


If you like your films nice and sweet, The Revenant is not for you. There’s brutal murder left, right and centre, Leo is mauled to within an inch of his life, multiple animals are killed, and it all ends in tears. It’s a remarkable feat of filmmaking and now the winner of three Golden Globes (best picture, director, and actor). But a relaxing night at the cinema it is not. Leo doesn’t do nice. He has an Oscar to win, goddammit.

4 stars

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