The Revenant review
The biggest distinction between older westerns (made before the 1970s) and the more current ones is how they portray the atmosphere. Both establish well enough that it was an unforgiving environment, but there is something safer about the older ones; an idea that you could at least get a drink from the saloon without a chance of getting shot. Now of course, we know that even a walk down main street was never a guarantee as there were a lot of deaths due to idiots with guns or greedy individuals who have surrendered their humanity in order to survive.
We’re lucky that we live in such a time period where we’ve found treatments for so many injuries and diseases that the lifespan has spun out of control. Back when even reaching sixty was a stretch is becoming more of the common middle ground. Back then, if you were lucky enough to make it through the madness that was the “survival of the fittest attitude”, you still had to last through horrible diseases, attacks from unfriendly Native Americans, and of course, the forces of natures. The story of one frontiersman and his trek through the wilderness shows no mercy in The Revenant.
In the early days of conquering the west in 1832, a military party of hunters and trappers are ambushed by the Arikara tribe. The attack leads to two thirds dead and the escaped survivors weary and trying to make their way back to civilization. Under the command of Captain Andrew Henry, it’s agreed by fur trapper Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) to ditch their only boat to hike the rest of the way, in order to avoid any more Indian attacks. Glass gets mauled by a mother grizzly bear and is wounded to the point where the rest of his party is convinced that he’s going to die.
Two men stay behind in order to wait for Glass to die so they can give him a proper burial, John Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy) and Jim Bridger (played by Will Poulter). Fitzgerald grows impatient and convinces Bridger to leave Glass behind so they can get to a nearby fort sooner for warmth and food. Even with the broken leg, broken ribs, and exposed wounds from the bear attack, Glass regains conciseness and proceeds to head in the direction that Fitzgerald was going to get his revenge for leaving him behind. Glass faces cold temperatures, his own wounds, and still hostile Indians in order to get to safety.
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman), then you’ll see that not only did he create a dark western, but wanted to make sure his actors would understand how harsh the environment was. The Revenant is self aware of how uncomfortable and gritty it is (even more so then The Hateful Eight) as is Leonardo DiCaprio who is the one to suffer the most. He gives everything he has for this nearly silent (yet still speaking two Native American languages) frontiersman who goes through hell, literally and figuratively, for the performance that looked to be so hard, that if he doesn’t finally get an Oscar, is clear proof that the academy hates him for no real reason.
Tom Hardy and Will Poulter manage to stand out in their own scenes, even knowing that there’s no way they could have outshined DiCaprio.
The Revenant makes for a very interesting journey that unfortunately is plagued by it’s own tone. Since were following one guy’s journey home, the two and a half hour running time is a lot to ask of it’s audience. It worked better for Cast Away as the environment constantly changed, while we’re stuck in this grim, snowy setting the entire time.
I’ll give this four bear skins out of five. Aside from being the major justification to finally let Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant happens to be a pretty good journey into the harsh west. It’s understandably not for everyone, but if your can stomach the worst from animal guts and broken bones, then this journey into hell is an interesting one.