REVIEW: The Revenant is a brutal story of survival, revenge

Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from the movie The Revenant.
Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from the movie The Revenant. Contributed

HAS there been a genre renaissance like the one westerns have undergone in the past decade?

The Revenant follows in the footsteps of Django Unchained, 3.10 to Yuma, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and the True Grit remake - and surpasses all of them.

From almost the first moment Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's view of the American west is a terrifying struggle.

The Revenant tells the partially true story of Hugh Glass - played by Leonardo DiCaprio - a scout on a fur trapping mission into the Midwest of America.

Alone in the woods, Glass is attacked by a bear and nearly killed, before his party finds him and keeps him alive.

Glass is eventually left with John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) who, after promising to stay with Glass until he dies, leaves him for dead.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass in The Revenant.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass in The Revenant. Contributed

But Glass survives and, sometimes literally, drags himself through the harsh American winter - fleeing a group of Native Americans and rival French fur hunters - in pursuit of Fitzgerald.

DiCaprio, in an incredible performance, spends almost the entire second act alone and barely speaking.

The already infamous bear attack scene is just one of many compelling but hard-to-watch scenes. At times the pain Glass goes through seems to be never ending. That this movie could be based, even slightly, on a true story is incredible.

Despite the constant horror and brutality there is kindness in The Revenant. A father's love for his son; a stranger helping a desperate man. But each ends in more brutality.

Hugh Glass's tale was loosely told in 1971's Man in the Wilderness Survival and revenge are two of storytelling's best motivations and The Revenant uses them to build a brutal, beautiful, edge-of-your seat film.

The Revenant is in cinemas now.


The Revenant

■ Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter.

■ Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

■ Rating: MA 15+

■ Reviewer: Geoff Egan

■ Verdict: 5/5 stars

Topics:  leonardo dicaprio the revenant

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