The Revenant (15)


Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson, Paul Anderson,  Brad Carter.

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20 on Twitter)

“As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe … keep breathing.”

Revenant: a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead … which makes the title of this epically brutal ‘survive-em-up’ spot on.

The ‘revenant’ in question here is Hugh Glass (Leonardo Di Caprio on surely Oscar winning at last form) – a real life frontiersman and fur trapper in the 1800s who underwent an incredible wilderness ordeal to try and find revenge.

Strap in then for a seriously perilous thrill ride of survival, where the extraordinary power of the human spirit is writ large in breathtaking cinematic style. Glass’s experiences of the uncharted American wilderness are certainly not for the faint of heart. Brief highlights include a brutal bear attack, beatings, being shot at with arrows and guns, freezing conditions and surviving on no provisions, plus being left for dead by his own friends. Broken limbs, life threatening injuries and a hunting party of bloodthirsty natives tracking him, Glass’s quest for survival is the very definition of ‘against the odds’.

The bear who mauls Glass is a work of cinematic genius, terrifying and brilliantly realised – this is the best on screen bear since, erm, Paddington … although anyone looking for a Paddington sequel here will be severely traumatised!?

Villain of the piece is back-stabbing scumbag John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy also on good form) whose betrayal of Glass sets up the main plot. The sheer force of will that sees Glass battling enemies, the elements and physical ailments in order to exact bloody vengeance is a glimpse into the dark motivations that lie under the civilised surface of man. This is a decent man who chooses a terrible course of action in order to exact a form of justice and find inner redemption. In the process he burns up his soul along with the astonishing physical torment he has to endure.

Director Iñárritu brings jaw-dropping cinematic spectacle to this snowy tale, the scenery is liable to transfix you with wondrous shots of forests and mountains which wouldn’t look out of place in a gallery.

The Revenant packs a compelling story, aided by a top notch cast. The two leads are ably supported by Domhnall ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Gleeson and Will ‘Maze Runner’ Poulter in particular.

This is a movie that will make you appreciate your nice warm home and safe existence just a little more. Highly recommended!

Thinking Material

What would drive a decent man to kill? Film’s like this have the power to convey the unimaginable – to drag you out of your everyday comfort zone and test your endurance, challenge your emotions and leave you considering the ‘what if’s’.
Could you find the sheer bloody mindedness to overcome impossible physical odds and wreak vengeance on someone who had wronged you? Is that even an acceptable response? I’m not going to go all ‘what would Jesus do’ on this plot because it’s too savage and raw to draw too close a biblical theme from. But echoes of revenge and ‘justice’ are the thoughts that Iñárritu’s Revenant will leave you pondering and I’d highly recommend that you give it a try even if revenge survival westerns aren’t your usual ‘thing’…

CVM Rating:  ****  4 out of 5 stars

Related Films: Unforgiven, The Hateful Eight, Open Range