“The Revenant” Film Review: Survival of the Fittest

AUSTIN VAN PAY | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST 

“The Revenant”is a gritty survival story that stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy as the two leads. The film is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is also known for his 2014 Oscar-winning film “Birdman.”

The film takes place in the 1820s when fur trading was one of the best ways to supply oneself with an income. Leonardo DiCaprio plays frontiersman Hugh Glass, who is part of a hunting crew that is obtaining wealth through the fur trade. After Hugh is brutally attacked and nearly killed by a bear in the woods, his crew finds him and inevitably decides to leave him behind due to the burden he brings them. John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) is tasked with taking care of him until his death, but decides he’s too much of a risk on his own life and ends up leaving him for dead while killing Hugh’s son in the process. Bent on revenge, Hugh sets out on his journey of vengeance after the brutal betrayal he experienced by Fitzgerald.

First off, let me say “The Revenant”is downright gritty, brutal and, yet, astonishingly beautiful. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki has crafted some of the most amazing shots I’ve ever seen in a film. The vast and harsh wilderness comes off the screen thanks to his amazing work and really allows the audience to feel as if they’re right there with our characters. It’s an amazing feat that is made even more impressive by the fact that there was no use of studio lighting; only the natural light of the sun and moon was used to light these amazing shots. The cinematography alone makes this movie worth seeing. It’s that good!

Furthermore, the story seems to be a revenge tale on the surface, but after watching, it’s much different than that. This film is truly a survival drama at its core. Those who are expecting a DiCaprio and Hardy battle-royale will be highly disappointed. This is the story showing one man’s journey of survival and the brutal experiences he has to overcome in order to get to the one man who has taken everything from him. The story isn’t the strongest piece of the film, and it didn’t need to be.

DiCaprio and Hardy give fantastic and very committed performances. Leonardo’s character, Hugh Glass, is haunted by events of his past and is put through so many trials and tribulations from Mother Nature throughout the entirety of the film. It’s brutal and unnerving to watch at times, but it’s done with great detail and care. You have to commend Leo’s passion and commitment to his roles, and this is another great success to add to his career.

Overall, “The Revenant”is a visually stunning film and one that should go down as one of the most beautifully shot films to date. It really makes you marvel at the vast environment as it all comes to life on screen. DiCaprio and Hardy give great performances, along with many others. Even with a simple story, there’s enough here to engross you in the film and make you feel as if you’re right there shivering next to the characters. “The Revenant”is a brutal survival story to experience for yourself.

Rating: 4/5

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