Review: The Revenant

Some of the most spectacular images ever seen on screen.

On the long list of movie executive excuses not to make things—“A gay person can’t play straight!” “Men don’t like women’s stories!” “People don’t want to see movies about minorities!” “No one will believe a 57 year-old man could be in love with a 50-year-old woman!”—no one thought to add “Leonardo DiCaprio as the doting father of a teen? LOL!” to the list, but such is the case with The Revenant. Alejandro Iñárritu’s follow-up to the much lighter Birdman wants to be The Most Important Movie You’ve Ever Seen but it never considers the set-up: A 1820s fur trader on a quest to avenge his son’s murder. Side note: Bear attack. Charles Bronson could’ve been in this movie 40 years ago. Instead it’s a prestige picture and we all have to, quite literally, suffer—between violent hand-to-hand battles, scalpings, a rape (natch) and DiCaprio’s bear dance, The Revenant wants you to feel all the pain you can muster. (And for a long time, leaning on three hours.) DiCaprio has the physical role, crawling around for an hour first, while Tom Hardy in the nemesis part gets to glower unintelligably through a beard. Iñárritu’s DP Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Children of Men) has composed some of the most spectacular images ever seen on screen—the film was shot mostly in northern Canada—and as an experience, it’s thrilling, terrifying and sobering. But there’s nothing to The Revenant except what darkness lies in the hearts of men, and who on the earth needs to know any more about that.

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