First off I have to start this with a disclaimer. I don’t want to write a review that is like everyone else praising this movie but I can’t help it. The writer in me wants to love this movie. The visuals are spectacular and you really resonate with Leo’s character and despise Tom Hardy. So the protagonist and antagonist angles are in. Conflict? There is plenty. The film opens up with Indians attacking the trappers. The fight scenes are pretty cool – especially the arrows flying through the air and the unique camera angles that put you right next to the horse Leo is riding when he is escaping the attack.
As the movie progresses the trappers are trying to make it back to their fort and first start by water but then decide to walk the rest of the way. It’s then that Leo gets mauled by a bear, after being separated from the group. The group finds him and ultimately two people stay back, Tom Hardy and a young impressionable trapper. Tom Hardy soon realizes that it would just be easier to kill Leo so he can get back to the fort and get his money for staying behind. But that plan runs into a hitch as Leo’s Indian son catches Hardy and yells out for help. But Hardy quickly stabs the boy to keep him silent and hides the body. Hardy decides to make up a story that the Indians are coming and him and his trapper buddy take off to leave Leo on his own. Of course, our main character recovers and finds the body of his son and is determined to kill Hardy for what he was done, but there are several roadblocks in his way. A hostile group of Indians catch up with Leo while he is sleeping one night and ultimately drive him off a cliff. This scene really stood out to me from the sheer direness of it all. Leo’s horse died in the fall but it was freezing so he had to take drastic measures, that meant cutting out the horse’s insides and Leo jumped into that horse to keep warm (those of you who watched the movie know what happened). This is one of the stronger survival scenes I have seen in a movie lately…if hadn’t done it he would be dead – but it’s just a crazy thing to have to do to survival. You can see how cold Leo is – and that’s because the director didn’t want CGI – the actors were miserable – and they are supposed to be miserable! They are trapping in the old days in the middle of winter and keep getting attacked by Indians – it was a rough life. This movie is ultimately about the human desire to survive in relentless conditions and it was a massive undertaking to effectively show that.
Now for the negatives. Even though The Revenent is Stephen Dent certified, the film was kind of slow at parts. It took a while to draw me in, even if there was a really cool battle. The film is kind of quiet. The wilderness can wear on you as a watcher of the movie. If you can get over all of that – and I’m sure you will – you will deeply enjoy this movie.
Moving on. The ending of the film was actually the best part because you desperately want Leo to find Tom Hardy and kill the bastard. He is just that evil. How it happens is that Leo and the captain of the trading company ride after Hardy, who had run off after he realized he was going to be found out. As they follow horse prints (which they rightly attribute to Hardy) the man ambushes them and shoots the Captain dead, quickly fleeing into a better position. Now what Leo does next is genius. He puts the Captain’s body on the lead horse and hides on the second horse in the back with a blanket over him. When Leo proceeds to ride up after Hardy, he hears a shot. Thanks to the bait and switch, Hardy’s bullet hits the dead Captain and Leo makes his move, popping out from underneath the blanket and shooting Hardy – but he doesn’t kill him! Leo gives chase and both him and Hardy end up fighting hand to hand. Leo ultimately stabs Hardy but lets the newly arrived Indians kill the man.
The Revenant was a vast undertaking by Alejandro González Iñárritu , the director, but I think he did some powerful work. Leo won the Oscar for best actor for this movie so if that doesn’t tell you anything I don’t know what else will.
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