I don’t even know where to begin with this movie. The idea that you can tell the story of a man left for dead in the wilderness at the height of winter and make it hard for viewers to take their eyes off screen for 150+ minutes is preposterous. But that is exactly what director Alejandro G. Inarritu has pulled off with The Revenant. I don’t know how he did it but it is an achievement of epic proportions. When you sit down to watch this movie you go in knowing pretty much the whole story if you watched the trailer – a man is left for dead in the wilderness in the most bitter, freezing conditions and his son is killed. He claws his way back to life to get revenge. There really isn’t that much more that I can tell you about. What I can tell you is that the director and his team – cast and crew – pull you in with every sense you’ve got.
DP Emmanuel Lubezski goes ahead and one ups himself with the visuals. As the characters make their way through the landscape, you’re treated to the full effect of light, shadow, colour and movement. Nature at its best even when it is ravaging everything in sight.
The team that made the call to have minimal interference by sound deserves some sort of award. You will not find a wall of sound in this movie.
Very early on in the movie you get a strange sense of being able to feel things – the panic and sense of being ambushed when the enemy attacks is the first clue. The confirmation comes when the bear attacks. It’s unclear how that sequence was executed but the scene where Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is thrown around and ripped apart like a rag doll is breathtaking because you can feel the weight of the bear.
The premise of the film brings to mind notions of the kind of meandering, slow-paced storytelling where taking a pee break causes you to miss nothing at all. Not here though. The threats are manifold and they come with no discernible pattern. You know that saying about it’s not how many times you fall down, but how many times you pick yourself up? Man, does the lead character learn that lesson!
Amidst all the grandeur of nature and savagery of wild animals, the cast manages to hold their own. DiCaprio is riveting, Domnhall Gleeson is a quiet commanding presence as the head officer, Will Poulter plays a solid junior soldier and Tom Hardy is magnificent as a self-serving officer who will do anything he can to make sure he is safe.
I had prepared myself for a snooze-fest. I really didn’t want to watch the film even though the trailer was a visual treat in itself, maybe because I’ve been fooled by trailers before. Turns out, not this time. This time it is the real deal and I suggest you watch it at a theatre near you as soon as possible. It’s not for the faint of heart though so know that you have been warned. I met someone who watched the film and was bored after thirty minutes. To each his (or her) own I guess. I’d still suggest you check it out and decide for yourself whether The Revenant does something for you or not.