Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written by: Mark L. Smith & Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay), Michael Punke (novel)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter
Leonardo DiCaprio endures such an excruciating array of torments in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant that by the time he guts a dead horse, strips naked and climbs inside it to keep warm for the night, I couldn’t help but laugh in pity. The movie, set in an unspecified area of the American frontier in the 1820s, is a series of grueling endurance tests for his character Hugh Glass, and its payoff is a brawl that paints the snow red and fills it with chunks of skin and bone.
The Revenant is a predictable, hyper-masculine revenge story told with a brutal beauty. Glass is helping navigate a group of fellow frontiersman after their hunting expedition, though the movie wastes no time before pummeling the group with violence. As they rest in the woods, a Native American tribe surrounds them and attacks; arrows pierce throats, bullets rip through bodies. Much of the scene unfolds in a single take. The camera follows a person, usually until they die, and then picks another. Unlike Birdman, Iñárritu’s underwhelming showbiz satire that was filmed as if it were all a single shot, The Revenant’s visual design enhances the movie’s other elements instead of overwhelming them.