Survival is a theme that almost always makes for riveting and quality cinema. Man and nature and the journey to ensure one’s longevity is something we can all find interesting and in the new western thriller The Revenant, audiences are presented with just that. Following up with his critically acclaimed Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu goes much deeper with a story that is not only told in a visually stunning way but will resonate with you long after you leave the movie theater.
Based on true events, The Revenant follows Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fur trapper who rides with a small group of adventurers (including his young son) in the wintery American wilderness circa 1823. When a grizzly bear viscously attacks Glass, fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) decides to leave Glass for dead in the hopes of making it back to town quicker. The bulk of the film then focuses on Glass, who tries to make it back to town on his own, with severe injuries, growing hunger, and the threat of hypothermia looming over him at every turn.
The Revenant isn’t just a tale of survival, it’s a tale of revenge and focuses on a man who will do whatever it takes to exact justice in a world where justice is far from a reality. Hugh Glass’ journey is a truly inspirational tale and the way in which it is captured on film is really a work of art. No stranger to providing an aesthetically-pleasing film experience, Alejandro G. Iñárritu has given us yet another movie that relies on shots, editing, and sound design that not only enhance the story but provide for the audience a surreal and visually brilliant treat. Iñárritu has followed Birman exceptionally well and The Revenant continues to display the filmmaker’s seemingly limitless talent.
Now, while Iñárritu is to be commended for his exemplary work in The Revenant, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy also need to be praised for their strong performances as well. DiCaprio, now 41, has grown from a gifted young child actor to a mature and truly competent leading man. Pretty much every role he plays is with strong dedication and absolute believability. His devotion to the craft of acting is what makes him one of today’s great thespians. Tom Hardy also gives quite a show as rugged villain who doesn’t really care about anyone but himself. He too is starting to show signs of becoming one of today’s most diverse and talented stars.
With the direction and acting being so profoundly good, one must also mention two other powerful elements. Those elements are the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, Oscar-winner for Gravity and Birdman, and the music by Bryce Dessner, Alva Noto, and Ryuichi Nakamoto, who paint a beautiful landscape with drums and Native American chanting. These two elements alone paint a gorgeous picture, both visually and aurally. While The Revenant isn’t the feel good movie of the year, it is a dark and gritty adventure that explores many important themes: family, survival, revenge, and justice.