Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) is the head of a fur trapping expedition. An attack by the Arikara tribe (also called the “Ree”) that left most of Captain Henry’s men dead. Experienced trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), leads the survivors on their journey back to the fort.
During their trek through the wilderness, Glass is attacked by a bear. When it becomes clear that he is going to die from his wounds, Captain Henry offers to pay men to stay with Glass until he dies, then give him a proper burial. John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), and Glass’ son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), agree to stay with him.
Afraid of the Ree chasing them, Fitzgerald makes the decision that they should abandon Glass and return to the fort. The men leave, not realizing that sheer will drives Glass to stay alive. Glass starts the long travel, wounded and alone. Glass is out to get revenge for what transpires in the woods, if he can survive the trip home.
Inspired by true events, The Revenant tells the story of Hugh Glass’ impossible journey through 1820’s Montana. While there has obviously been some creative liberty and exaggeration taken with the story, the feeling of frontier life feels authentic.
Anymore, it seems all Leonardo DiCaprio’s films are epic period dramas. Fortunately, Leo excels in these types of roles. The Revenant is no exception. Leo’s acting abilities are even more impressive, given that he has little to say in this film. Tom Hardy is almost unrecognizable as Fitzgerald. He blends in well to most films he does in this aspect. His character is ruthless and self-preserving, and Tom sells it well.
Visually speaking, director Alejandro Iñárritu gives us a strikingly shot film, showing the harsh, unforgiving Montana winter. Choosing to shoot in remote locations, where the conditions were very similar to what we see in the film, rather than on a sound stage add to the authenticity of the film. The actors are experiencing many of the same things their characters did. While I do question some of the scenes in the film, the landscape Iñárritu provides is impressive.
While the action in the film is brutal and ruthless, Iñárritu opted to take a relatively reserved approach. Aside from bodies being pierced with arrows and a few missing fingers, most of what could have been extremely gory is done just off camera. Even the infamous bear mauling is less graphic than expected.
I have to recommend renting this film. This is due almost solely to its 158 minute run time. It’s a long movie, and it feels every minute of it. If they had cut out some of the extraneous dream sequences, and shots that hold on unimportant and irrelevant moments to get it down to 2 hours, it would have been a much better film. Sure, it adds to the drama and impossibility of the ordeal. Unfortunately, it starts to make you feel almost as tortured as Glass was on the journey.