Survival stories are often compelling. The ‘how and will they?’ survive angle has entranced audiences for decades. Movies seemingly were invented for such tales as they run the gamut of joy, despair, anger and grief. Mixing these into a potent cocktail is ‘The Revenant’. Based on true events, it’s a vengeance-fuelled story captivating from its first frame. Making full use of its stark surrounds, ‘The Revenant’ proves the ‘survival of the fittest’ motif refers to the physical and mental challenges that its protagonist determinedly overcomes.
After being attacked by a bear, explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) relies on his friend’s help. A member of a hunting team in the 1820’s, his trek into the snowy wilds has reached a nasty impasse. Made harder by the betrayal of colleague John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who leaves him for dead, Glass struggles to stay alive. Although his quest for survival is fraught with peril, Glass is determined to defy the odds as he sets his eyes on revenge.
Although Leonardo DiCaprio is billed as the star of ‘The Revenant’, its true appeal lies in the cinematography. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu completely embraces the harsh landscape in which Glass finds himself. The open fields mask the inner conflicts Glass has and his dogged zeal in surviving the elements. ‘The Revenant’ is reliant on amazing visuals although Inarritu is careful to never let them overwhelm the story. He ensures the tale of justice and humanity is effectively served by the primal elements giving ‘The Revenant’ genuine authenticity.
The vistas aid in the strong performances. DiCaprio has grown into a solid actor willing to delve deeply into his characters. He successfully inhabits Glass’ resolute persona as does Hardy as the evil Fitzgerald. Like DiCaprio, Hardy has built a reputation for immersing himself into his role, which he does very well here. Story elements featuring Native Americans and their plight against white tyranny also provide interest despite the often drawn-out run-time.
‘The Revenant’ is an interesting survival movie delivering on its promise. Like so many in its genre, it raises questions of how the protagonist can overcome various obstacles. The power of the mind can just be as strong as the physical side, something ‘The Revenant’ compellingly tells.
Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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