The Revenant

Film, Action and adventure
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(40user reviews)
The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio battles the elements – and a ferocious bear – in this fierce, elemental western from 'Birdman' director Alejandro González Iñárritu

After the playful, urban and contemporary humour of the Oscar-winning ‘Birdman’, this bleak-faced 1820s-set frontier western sees Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu return to the darker worldview of his earlier films like ‘Babel’ and ‘21 Grams’.

Based on a 2002 Michael Punke novel about real-life folk hero Hugh Glass, ‘The Revenant’ stars Leonardo DiCaprio (gruff, committed, unreadable) as a fur trapper and frontiersman left for dead by his colleagues in a wintry American landscape after he is viciously shredded by a grizzly bear. Glass survives, and he hauls his damaged body through snow, across rivers, up rocks and over plains, driven by revenge. In his sights is John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, savage with a dash of black humour), the man responsible for abandoning him to die and for forcing him to watch as his young son (of mixed-race parentage) is murdered in front of his eyes.

So, no, it’s not a happy tale. But what survives from ‘Birdman’ is a compelling, forward-moving, simple approach to storytelling that grips us through stretches of silence and misery. The film's relentlessness itself becomes magnetic. There are times when 'The Revenant' feels like one long and unforgiving act of sadism, mostly directed at its lead character, but occasionally at us (a warning: the film is long, the dialogue is minimal and the violence is sharp). There are moments, too, that feel like parodies of awards-hungry acting, such as when we see DiCaprio chomping on raw animal organs or climbing into the steaming carcass of a dead horse.

But what makes this more than just a punishing, fearful, expertly crafted thriller focused on one man’s endurance is heavily down to Emmanuel Lubezki’s attractive, thoughtful photography. Lubezki’s work will be familiar to viewers of Terrence Malick’s recent films (including ‘The Tree of Life’) for the timeless sense of soulfulness that he can lend to a landscape. Here, that same visual style, coupled with the film’s concern for the Native American experience and its compassion for the father-child bond, makes ‘The Revenant’ not just gruelling, but often gorgeous and quietly spiritual. 

Release details

Release date:
Friday January 15 2016
Duration:
156 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenwriter:
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mark L. Smith
Cast:
Tom Hardy
Leonardo DiCaprio
Will Poulter

Average User Rating

3.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:14
  • 4 star:10
  • 3 star:9
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:3
LiveReviews|40
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1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Each year as awards season rolls round, a flurry of worthy films appear in your local picture house; some are excellent, well-paced and worth the ticket price. Some are difficult to watch and harder to wade through than year old treacle. ‘The Revenant’ falls squarely into camp one, an absolute dream of a film that I wanted to hunker down and watch again even as the credits were still rolling.

The trailer doesn’t do this movie justice; swathes of snow covered landscapes and an often incoherent Tom Hardy don’t always make for the most appealing of film premises even to lovers of both icy winters and grizzly Brits. It is long – a good two and a half hours – but it never, ever feels slow or tedious; there is a momentum that feels entirely appropriate, allowing you to fall into the bewitching panoramas without wallowing.

Beautiful swells of strings provide a soundtrack which tugs at the heart but never manipulatively and the cinematography here is stunning. Shot using 100% natural light for a few hours each day, it’s both testament to the visionary film-making genius of both director Alejandro G Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and reassurance to film lovers everywhere that, in a world of ‘Dirty Grandpa’ and ‘Wedding Ringer’, movies like this can still be made. The script is minimal with no words un-necessary and the action scenes are utterly absorbing; be prepared to flinch and feel your stomach turn over as though you were beside the actors in their moments of deepest adversity.

The acting is universally flawless with Leonard diCaprio and Tom Hardy deserving of every accolade that has been lauded on them. Chewing the scenery up and spitting it out behind him, Hardy is unquestionably deeply flawed but never one dimensional which makes him a refreshing sort of villain while diCaprio possesses the sort of tenacity and quiet dignity which makes you root for him deeply and personally. Yes it’s his time to win that Oscar and yes he’s waited but actually, it’s the fact that his performance is worthy of the win which makes it something to be sincerely pleased about for him.

Will Poulter is also excellent in a supporting role with real meat on the bones and Domnhall Gleeson puts the ghost of his Star Wars travesty to rest getting back to the kind of performance that made him such a standout in ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘About Time’.

There’s a purity and a rawness about ‘The Revenant’ which I loved and which doesn’t come along very often; when it does, you owe it to yourself to sit back and absorb every brutal, bloody, still, dramatic, hopeful and peaceful moment.


tastemaker

Not my usual type of film and wasn’t sure I’d really get into it, but credit to the acting and overall filmmaking it was captivating for the entire 156 mins(!). Pleased I gave it a watch, so much so I regret not seeing it when in the cinema, I think the visual special effects and sound would have been even more awe-inspiring on the big screen. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance was well deserving of his Oscar, it was eye opening to see him in a role so different to anything else I’ve seen him in, with such a long film and in respect so little dialog it really gave opportunity for his talent to shine through which obviously couldn’t be overlooked. Tom Hardy’s portrayal, though not Oscar winning was also noteworthy, he plays dark and sinister so well without being the cheesy villain type. With its fair share of bloodshed this was never going to be the most uplifting film and probably not one I will repeat very often, that said I did appreciate the thought provoking nature of the journey of survival and perseverance against the odds

tastemaker

I finally got round to watching this film and had high expectations following all the media attention and awards. Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio did deserve the accolades that were handed to him. He did get very wet and seemingly rather cold although I found it strange that in that temperature the heat of the actors' breath was never visible. Maybe it wasn't that cold in reality! The scenery was absolutely breath-taking and was an integral part in maintaining an unnerving and worrying atmosphere. This was never going to be a feel-good film but it was able to capture my attention for over two and a half hours. The music added depth. Tom Hardy was as menacing as his role required and I waited eagerly for his demise. Quite a long wait in fact! A film very well directed but one viewing is sufficient for me.

moderator
Featured

I wasn't expecting the sublime beauty in this otherwise gruesome film. The music, the scenery, the sounds accompanying every scene, whether running water, cold wind, or the shallow breathing of the main character. It all adds up to a master movie that took me by surprise. The Oscar for Leo is in the bag already. The last close-up looking at the camera, breaking the 4th wall was sublime. Hardy is menacing and complex and adds to the great tension and drama of this movie.The cinematography is beyond Oscar-worthy, violent and spiritual at the same time. Best director and best picture are probably in the bag as well. This is a movie that is huge and small at the same time, and there in lies its magnificence.

Staff Writer

What a film. What a story line. Totally immersed throughout. Stella performance from Leonardo DC, plus the likes of Tom Hardy. If you didn't see it at the cinema, stream it, rent it or buy it. Just watch it!

Tastemaker

This film has icy scenery and not much else. A good revenge film should make interesting points about violence, vengeance, and duty - this does not. It's effective for creating mood, but not for saying anything profound.


Good performance by Dicap, but the whole thing felt slightly like well expensive Pain Porn.

Tastemaker

I really didn't enjoy this film! I wanted to watch it so I could see the movie that finally earned Leo an Oscar, however I just found it boring and waaayyy too long. I was on a flight and probably didn't pay as full attention as I should have, but I just didn't find it an engaging film to watch. Leo was good of course, and I'm pleased that he earned an Oscar for it. But the only reason I didn't turn the movie off was because I wanted to watch his performance, not because I was interested in the storyline. I'm giving the film 3 stars because of Leo's role in it, but otherwise it would have earned a 2 from me!

Tastemaker

Visually stunning film, I'm so glad Leonardo DiCaprio got an Oscar for this one. He ate raw bison liver goddammit! And the scene where he is mauled by the bear is terrifying.

Always solid directing from Alejandro G Inarritu, would highly recommend giving this a watch.

Tastemaker

Having your head chewed on by a bear and eating raw liver from a dead Buffalo is what it takes to win an Oscar after a lifetime of excellent performances... It is beyond me that elements of the film can be even remotely based on truth, which is what makes it so powerful and enables you to reflect on human nature, culture and tradition. 

The cinematography is breath taking and although I probably had my eyes shut in horror for half of it, it was an immensely moving film that comes highly recommended. 


Brilliant movie, superb acting by both Leonardo DC and Tom Hardy and the scenery........well that was the winner for me.  Just sheer beauty all around even in the harshness of those severe winters.  Some of the scenes are hard to watch knowing that the movie is based on a true story.  The will of man to survive against all odds is very clearly shown through this story. Delighted that Leo finally got an Oscar for this magnificent portrayal/acting.


If ever an actor deserved an Oscar, it's Leonardo Dicaprio for the sheer commitment to this epic film. While most people could barely function in these kinds of conditions, Leo pulled another superb performance out of the bag to deliver an award-winning performance of a man whose endurance is almost unbelievable. A couple of my friends thought it was too long and "arty" but I loved the contrast of brutality with sweeping scenes of the stunning landscape. As a couple of other reviewers have said, I could barely understand what Tom Hardy was saying for most of the film, but didn't feel as though this took away from my enjoyment. Would definitely recommend seeing The Revenant on the big screen if you can.


Watching this movie gave me a chill - the experience is that immersive. The cinematography is wonderful - but it was the sounds of nature throughout the movie that I found most powerful. Should have won best picture. The Oscars get it totally wrong - again. Go see it on the big screen. The DVD will be a pale comparison. 

Tastemaker

Inspired by true events.

'The Revenant' is an immersive experience on the survival of a man and the power of the human spirit . An expedition into the unknown American territory , the legendary explorer Hugh Glass ( Leonardo DiCaprio that we can now finally say he is a Academy Award Best Actor Winner ) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by his hunting companions. Driven by a thirst for revenge and the love of his family, Glass will face a harsh winter in a relentless quest for survival and redemption. 


Great film!

Tastemaker

Wow Leo has done it again. Another cracking movie to add to his repertoire. So convincing as a man surviving the wilderness against all odds. Surely the Oscars will be calling his name this year?! The landscape and cinematography is simply stunning too, almost like a work of art. The story pulls you in and makes you feel like you are living every moment with Hugh. I have to say Tom Hardy was fabulous as the villain of the story too.. You really do hate him! Oh and of course I can't write a review without mentoring that infamous bear scene. Crikey.. What a fight!! Fantastic film, an early favourite of the year.

Tastemaker

I would definitely recommend The Revenant, especially watching it at the cinema. The cinematrography is great and the landscape shots just amazing. 

The story is alright, I was a bit disappointed as I had higher expectations. I wish people hadn't been speaking so much about Leo's performance as this was all I could think about when I watched the film. I really didn't get all the fuss though. I think Tom Hardy is at least as good as Di Caprio.

Overall, a film worth watching, but I'm not sure I need to see again too soon. And I hope Leo doesn't get an Oscar for this performance, he's done and I'm sure will do much better films!

Tastemaker

Meh. The cinematography is beautiful but then the scenery is so stunning it would be difficult to make it look bad. In terms of the acting, there's lots of pondering silences and I found myself looking at my watch to see how long we'd been in the cinema and how long might be to go (never a good sign). I agree with many of the reviews posted all over the internet already - this is an Oscar hungry performance from Leo and I didn't see anything that really stood out to win him that accolade apart from perhaps desperation, long stares, painful expressions. I realise he put his body through extremes in filming but many actors do this these days and was the acting superior to that in other films this year? I'm not convinced personally. Should he win. Probably not. Will he win. Probably.



Tastemaker

Loved this play. Once again Alejandro Inarritu (aka Babel, Beautiful) did his magic and offered us an excellent movie. I wouldn't expect anything less than that from Inarritu. By the way, uncle Oscar is finally calling Leonardo Di Caprio? Just a little wait till Oscar awards this year....


A beautifully shot survivalist picture with a mighty central performance from Di Caprio.  It is a bit too long and there should have been a bit more back story to how the characters linked up at the start.  Hardy was basically a cardboard cutout and reminded me of Tom Berenger in 'Platoon'.  His character was too underwritten.  The violence was hard and brutal, THAT bear scene a little OTT but for the most part it was a well made piece of cinema.   I'm just not really sure what exactly it was trying to say...

Staff Writer

I went to the cinema not quite knowing whether or not I wanted see this film. I mainly went because of Leo (not just because of his gorgeousness), he is an incredible actor and hasn't disappointed me in any film I've seen him in. Once again Leonardo DiCaprio was brilliant. 


This is quite a long film (3 hours I think) but I did not get bored or long for the next scene. Instead I was pulled into every moment, even the silent ones. Parts made me feel like I was watching a piece of art, the landscape shots were beautiful and in some ways moments of peace in a film of savage. And then there was the action, I'm sure that you will all know by now of the bear attack- this was shot and performed fantastically and had me cringing a few times indeed. 


Tom Hardy was brilliant in this also, he really made me want to punch him (and I'm not a violent person- never actually been in a fight). He played John Fitzgeral, the man who abandons Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and leaves him to die, amongst other things. As the film went on the growth of anger grew towards Fitzgeral, who is a nasty piece of work. 


A great film. 

tastemaker

The graphics and acting were amazing but the story line was too long with a so what ending. There were really gritty scenes that really make you hold your breath. It would be too hard to watch again though.

Tastemaker

The Revenant is slow, brooding and, as you'd expect from the name, full of themes of death, being reborn and coming back stronger. You all know by now he gets attacked by a bear, which is brutal - and it's not the only thing brutal here. Blood is spilled and life is cheap out in the Frontier in the 1820s. Shot in Argentina over a period of three years, apparently they only filmed this during a magical window when the natural light was just right, and the result is breathtaking. The movie lingers on snowy vistas and landscapes as it draws you in to this savage wilderness and DiCaprio does a fantastic job of showing off his emotions despite the fact he doesn't actually say many words in the movie. Tom Hardy is the villain here and he's as chameleon-like as usual as a soldier who escaped a scalping from the Native Americans. Oddly, despite an awesome sound mix, the ADR on the native spoken language seems to be off - it doesn't match the lip syncing which is quite off-putting. Definitely worth a watch if you don't mind the sight of blood.

Tastemaker

It was a good film, but it wasn't as amazing as everyone is making out! There was a lot of DiCaprio moaning, grunting and groaning. The cinematography was beautiful, and the acting was great, but there could've been a better storyline.

Tastemaker

Had high expectations before seeing this (due to reviews and Oscar Nominations) and wasn't left feeling disappointed. The film although a little long kept me engaged, squirming in my seat a few times (a bit gruesome in some places) and had some beautiful cinematography. My only complaint about the film would be how quickly Hugh Glass’s character recovers from his wounds-wont say anymore in case of spoiling it but everything else was great!


I wasn't expecting the sublime beauty in this otherwise gruesome film. The music, the scenery, the sounds accompanying every scene, whether running water, cold wind, or the shallow breathing of the main character. It all adds up to a master movie that took me by surprise. The Oscar for Leo is in the bag already. The last close-up looking at the camera, breaking the 4th wall was sublime. Hardy is menacing and complex and adds to the great tension and drama of this movie. The cinematography is beyond Oscar-worthy, violent and spiritual at the same time. Best director and best picture are probably in the bag as well. This is a movie that is huge and small at the same time, and there in lies its magnificence.

Tastemaker

“The poor guy can’t catch a break!” is what I found myself yelling at the screen whilst watching The Revanant. And no, I’m not talking about Leonardo DiCaprio’s failure to bag that most coveted Oscar, but of his character Hugh Glass’s series of misfortunes (and that’s putting it lightly). The fur-trapper, along with his son and fellow frontiersmen, are firstly targeted by some really angry bow & arrow yielding Native Americans; then after escaping, Leo and his son gets picked on by a shabby looking and utterly unintelligible Tom Hardy. And then if that wasn’t bad enough, poor old Glass gets mauled by a great big grizzly bear, whom might I add at least deserves the nod for Best Supporting Animal (and if that isn’t a category, then it needs to be. #OscarsSoHuman). But things get worse for Glass as, battered, broken and bound to a stretcher, he’s then abandoned by his group, almost strangled to death by Hardy’s character Fitzgerald, forced to watch helplessly as Fitzgerald murders his son and then finally buried alive and left for dead.

What follows are several “The poor guy can’t catch a break!” moments as Glass battles the elements and flees those pesky Native Americans, determined to catch up with Fitzgerald and revenge the death of his beloved son Hawk.


Be warned this film is long and I feel that I deserve some sort of reward for sitting through the whole thing, but it is rather good. Good enough for me to want it on DVD? Not quite. But it’s defo worth a look just to see what all the hype is about. I haven’t seen the other films up for Best Picture or any of those with Leo’s fellow Best Actor Nominees, but from what I’ve seen, I think this just might be his year. There are some truly harrowing scenes here, which are very well acted and equally well directed, so Alejandro GonzálezIñárritu may want to clear a space on his trophy cabinet too. And the scenery? Oh my, the scenery is just stunning! Is there an award for that too? I’m not a film aficionado, but if you like intense, harrowing films with action and bloody violence with lots of snow, mountains, bears and a horse carcass then this is the film for you.

Tastemaker

A brutal, 'loosely factual' retelling of the Missouri folk legend of Hugh Glass, a fur trapping scout of the early 1800s whose near-death experience at the paws of a bear and doing-over by a compatriot led to a Lazarus-esque journey to get some payback


During several pinnacle moments of The Revenant, as the camera closes onto Leonardo DiCaprio's bearded, battered face, it is tempting to imagine the long suffering actor turning to the camera, eyes glossing over with tears of desperation, and whispering, "Guys. Come on, now. Is this not enough? What more do you want? What more can I do? Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it... to me". He doesn't do it, but his haunted soul tells it all. Leo's odyssey of a performance as betrayed fur trapper Hugh Glass is undoubtedly the most painful and sacrificial given by any actor in some time - he has deserved the Academy Award  in previous years, and he does again now. It seems a sure thing. At the very least it'd be nice to have him win just to get all the hoopla about him not winning out of the way."Give the man a proper burial, he's earned it", shouts a gruff captain to his men during the first act of The Revenant, falsely believing Leo's character to be down for the count. Little did he know it was just getting started. Well what I say is: "Give the man his Oscar, he's earned it". 


So too has Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, as best director. He put himself and his cast through hell on Earth to complete this film to his vision, and it pays off, because it looks and feels real. CGI included; though not exactly uncanny to  the genuine article, the computerised effects are tactfully limited, and there was no way to get certain shots besides having an actual bear maul an A-list actor, which was not on the cards (though Leo would've blatantly been up for it). Some of the action scenes in this film appear to defy logistic possibility, they are so whirlwind fast and chaotic, yet flow with a savage beauty that makes some sort of primal sense. Like a fight to the death between a troupe of ballet dancers. Arrows thud, whirl, pierce flesh; men are pounded to the ground and beat into the mud with animal rage; the strongest and the luckiest get out with their lives and carry on - this is human survival on the edge, the foundations of civilisation laid bare. 


The scenery plays a huge part in the film - nature presents as much difficulty as the villainy of man for Leo's broken, vengeful father to overcome. Going up mountains, going down mountains, going around mountains - it all takes its toll. Coupled with river rapids and blizzards, it can seem that the odds are insurmountable, that god (or, say, the universe) doesn't want the hero to survive. But it presents as many blessings, when the time is right. Innaritu takes a leaf (more like a branch) out of Terrence Malick's Tree of Life in his depiction of the elements, showing at once a great sense of wonder and respect, and a heightened awareness of their unbending apathy.  

The only thing distracting from an otherwise gripping ride was the inclusion of fever dream hallucinations of Glass' wife and past life, which are a little too Gladiator-soppy for the story. Another comparison must be made between made with Malick, for his film the The New World, which recreated the discovery of the Americas and the initial pillaging of the Native American lands - The Revenant is something of a spiritual sequel then, revealing what happened when the Natives fought back.


The film is an ordeal at times. It is tough to watch. There is heart thumping violence and as much abject misery as you could care to behold. Yet its sheer perseverance is to be applauded. Life is pain, The Revenant tells us, but it is sometimes worth it. 




This powerful film should carry a health warning.  The violence is not just what you see as the very effective sound track allows you to feel the thud of each arrow, the groan of each wind blown tree, the creak of each floor board. This violence comes with the territory and men fighting over it.  It is very realistic but is not glorified.

There are many memorable moments in this magnificent film.  For me the camera tracks up from the body of a dead horse, surrounded by trees and snow and I can see a cave painting.  

There are many moments when out of horror comes that unexpected beauty, shockingly juxtaposed.


Long, long, long, long, long, long, etc.  Did I mention that this film goes on for a long time?  It's hard to see why it was nominated for 12 Oscars.  I'm guessing that's because there isn't much else to choose from.

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Best summed up as "Gladiator" set to a wild-west theme.

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(In the end you'll end up not caring who dies/who survives.)

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Three - generous - stars.

Tastemaker

Cinematography us stunning! DiCaprio takes us on a journey you aren't likely to forget! Based on a true story.


It was mesmerising cinematography set in a beautiful wintry terrain.  Not much of a script but a gripping 19th century fur trapper thriller!  Where surviving the winter outdoors and bear fights was impressive.  Leonardo DiCaprio pulled off an excellent performance – I hope he now gets the Oscar he deserves.   

0 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Two positive things about this film: great acting from the entire cast and fabulous photography. The sceneries truly are mind-blowing!

However, hate is a strong word but I really disliked the other aspects of the film: none of it is believable, from the number of times this man should have died to the fact that his team tried to carry him for so long. I mean, seriously, carrying him all this time means certain death for the rest of them. Also, I'm not great with violence in general so it was a bit difficult for me to watch.

0 of 1 found helpful

The cinematographer deserves an award. The script is dreadful though: no story, one-dimensional characters, predictable plot and inevitable showdown. It's also fantastically up itself running on for so long and the pacing is poor. Cutting it in half would have dramatically improved it. There is no way this deserves the plaudits it's getting.

0 of 2 found helpful

very disappointing , i just dont understand how films like this get great reviews, the cinematography was great, the film though was laborious and slow ,what he survives unbelievable though of course he had watched some Bear grylls programmes i suppose. whats anyone can see spiritual about it goodness knows. i am giving it one star in reaction to the ridiculous hype it has had in reality i would peobably say somewhere between 2 and 3. 

0 of 2 found helpful

I can't imagine how our hero survived two grizzly bear attacks was buried alive went over not one but two waterfalls and let's not forget his horse jumped off a cliff and the horse was killed and our hero survived. My husband fell asleep and I willed the hero to die but I was determined to sit it out how it won rave reviews I'll never know. The most boring film I've ever sat through and believe you me I've sat through some rubbish! Jackie

0 of 2 found helpful
tastemaker

The Cinematography is stunning. But I'm afraid I found the film far too long - rather tedious & lacking in any sensible plot.

Some of the dialogue is in French (with subtitles), & some sort of Red Indian dialogue (with subtitles) . The small amount of English dialogue I found totally incompressible ( & needed subtitles). 

0 of 2 found helpful
Tastemaker

This a movie about some guy who was left for dead through the (I find reasonable) decision by some incomprehensible guy who also happened to kill main guys son (not so reasonable). What follows is the long struggle from Main guy to find incomprehensible guy to have his revenge. Main guy should have died. The bear (who I personally think it is the only award nomination worthy character in the whole movie) should have killed him, infection should have killed him, the fact he had a gaping hole in his throat that water was passing through while he drank that he sewed together should have killed him, the cold should have killed him, the lack of food while incredibly infected should have killed him. He should have died but he manages to carry on. There is nearly no dialogue and it is long. The only reason I am giving two stars is that it is quite funny seeing Leo battle with a Bear and the scenery is stunning. Otherwise I did not like this movie.