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Director—Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Based on the nonfiction novel of the same name, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s adaptation is hard to pin down. Iñárritu brings together genres such as action, adventure, revenge, and history, creating a film that cohesively takes a slice out of almost everything. In doing so, it makes for an experience that is tough, gritty, and at times, uncomfortably gory to watch.
Set in 1823, The Revenant is about a group of trappers in the Northern Plains of America who are on a expedition to hunt animals for pelts. The group find themselves in trouble when they enter unorganized US territory and come under attack from the Arikara Native Americans who are searching for their chief’s lost daughter.
Believing that the Americans have kidnapped his daughter, the chief hunts the group, and they are forced to abandon their settlement and flee. As some flee on boat, others are wary of the dangers of escaping by boat, the group’s guide and most skilled hunter, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), suggests that the remaining trappers walk back to the outpost.
Very early on the rivalry between Glass and fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) is established, as he questions the decision and shows obvious distaste towards Glass and his half native son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck).
After a near fatal incident with a bear, the wounded Glass slows the other trappers down. After Fitzgerald killing him to speed them up, Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) insists they wait until he dies naturally, and insists they give him a proper burial. Fitzgerald fakes Glass’s death, leaving him to die in a grave. From here, what ensues is a dangerous journey fuelled by revenge, and punctuated by visions of the person that Glass values the most: his lost love.
Iñárritu’s ability to incorporate a multitude of film elements including CGI, feels natural and provides the film with a unique sense of sophistication. While a partly animated bear may have initially raised eyebrows at the film’s quality, the CGI is sophistically incorporated throughout. The film is also strengthened by DiCaprio’s astounding and transformative performance that landed him an oscar (finally!).
Featuring a solid cast and a director whose dedication is evident from the production process to the film’s final execution, The Revenant offers audiences a gruelling but rewarding cinematic experience.