Revenant: Noun. A person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.
Fresh off the back of Oscar glory with last years Birdman, director, Alejandro González Iñárritu has picked up another Best Director nomination for the forthcoming awards and would perhaps be considered a more worthy winner this time around. In fact, The Revenant leads the pack with a total of twelve nominations and come 28 February, all eyes will undoubtedly be on Leonardo DiCaprio to see if he can finally clinch that elusive ‘Best Actor’ accolade. In all honesty if he doesn’t win it here, the academy might as well just give it to Martin Kemp for Age of Kill as that would be an equally ridiculous decision.
The film is based around the true tale of Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), a frontiersman who is left for dead by two colleagues whilst returning from an expedition after being mauled by a bear. He then battles the elements and travels over 200 miles whilst recovering, to seek revenge against Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the treacherous man who made the decision to leave him behind.
Filmed in chronological order and with only natural lighting, the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki simply soars on every level, and with previous credits including Gravity and Birdman, he's really stringing together an extremely impressive body of work.
The film clocks in at a lengthy 156 minutes, yet not once did I want to be anywhere else but with my eyes glued to the screen. This is a film which truly deserves its run time. The opening moments feature a blisteringly fraught battle sequence with the members of Glass’ expedition and the Arikara tribe, which is all covered in one glorious tracking shot. The camera weaves amongst the action following the arrows as they zip by, then down into the water and up through the trees until finally a few lucky men make good their escape.
Whilst on their retreat, Glass stumbles upon a bear and two cubs as he is scouting the area. What follows is the first of many toe curlingly tremendous set pieces that are not only extremely visceral but so immersive in wonderment that the result is nothing but pure cinema.
Glass’ journey of retribution pushes not only himself, but the audience to the ultimate limits. He battles the elements, but also the various opposing tribes who are constantly on his trail. His body is broken, his hunting methods would make Gollum proud, and he even does a Han Solo a la Empire Strikes Back in order to keep out the deadly cold during nightfall. You genuinely feel a chill whilst watching this film and the first thing I did upon arriving home was have a bath followed by a hot chocolate with brandy.
As tremendous as DiCaprio is, it’s not all about him. The supporting cast are equally as integral to the overall success of the piece. Tom Hardy is once again very solid, Domhnall Gleeson continues to add to his perfect filmography but it is Will Poulter who deserves a great deal of credit for producing a very complex performance, and is transitioning from an exciting acting prospect to an accomplished, well rounded performer.
Don’t be surprised if this doesn’t clean up a good portion of the available prizes come awards season, and rightly so; for you will certainly struggle to find many more films released this decade which are as complex, dangerous and as beautiful as The Revenant. An absolute must for the big screen, so don’t make the mistake of waiting until the DVD release.
The Revenant is nominated for 12 Oscars. Book your tickets to see it here, or click here to vote for Leo to finally bag that Best Actor trophy! Want more? Watch Gary's video review on Youtube.