Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman) Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck Verdict: The getting-even of wisdom
IN The Revenant, revenge is indeed a dish best served cold.
How cold? The score that must be settled here is chilling enough to start a whole new ice age.
The only thing preventing viewers of The Revenant from becoming frozen solid in their seats is the incredible heat given off by a searing performance from Leonardo DiCaprio.
There is a fire in his gut that at first smoulders, then gradually catches alight, before finally combusting into an intense blaze.
It is an incredible display of acting by DiCaprio, a career-defining effort that should secure him the next Best Actor Oscar.
The damaging majesty of the performance continually lifts The Revenant to a higher place.
The end result is a work of cinema as original, challenging and uncompromising as director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s previous film, Birdman.
DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a tracker working deep in the wilderness of the Rockies in the 1820s.
While leading a fur-trapping expedition across this forbidding terrain, Glass is set upon by a ferociously protective mother bear.
This is the notorious scene which generated much bizarre (and misleading) publicity for The Revenant last month. You will forget all you might have heard about it once you see it for yourself. This is truly one of the most frightening things to have landed on the big screen in a long time.
The ordeal sends Glass to the very brink of death. Somewhere between his second-last and final breath, to be exact.
While fighting with all his might to stay alive, the men ordered by the expedition commander to remain at his side abandon Glass, and make tracks for home.
One of them never liked Glass much anyway. His name is John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, a worthy match for DiCaprio), and he is one mean piece of work. Not only did he come up with the callous idea to pre-emptively leave Glass for dead. He also killed Glass’s only child. Just because he could.
What follows in The Revenant is a mesmerising and often punishing chronicle of how Glass fuses his singular instinct to survive with his overpowering need to find Fitzgerald and finish him off.
The direction of Inarritu is disarmingly basic. Having committed to shoot The Revenant entirely at remote locations in only natural light, the filmmaker has only two levers he can pull when it comes to manipulating his audience.
If your senses are not being caressed by the imposing, rugged grandeur of the spectacular settings, then your nerves are being jabbed at mercilessly as Glass slowly closes in on Fitzgerald.