Reaching for the stars and falling short enough to be captured again by Earth’s atmosphere, The Revenant promises much but, for the most part, ends up delivering little. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and detailing what is supposedly a true story, The Revenant is a picturesque movie following the ghastly tale of frontiersman “Hugh Glass.” The movie takes place in 1823 and travels along the violent path that Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) would take to enact the finale of his own revenge story. In the vast wilderness that is the Louisiana Purchase Glass must not only defend himself from the original inhabitants of the land, but also the new, and even the land itself to preserve his own life and avenge another’s.
No doubt the role could have been served to someone else and been equally well followed through, but DiCaprio gave The Revenant his blood, sweat, and tears- and it shows. Hugh Glass is brought to a bloody and vivid reality with DiCaprio’s haunting portrayal. While zero character development occurs during the film’s plot, a good deal of appalling violence takes its place, and most of that violence is inflicted upon Glass. DiCaprio may not have had to say a whole lot, but he certainly should get credit for doing a believable job of spewing saliva in savage pain when called upon to do so for the role.
The movie is undeniably beautiful, albeit often in a grotesque manner. Incredible shots of breathtaking scenery are paired with quasi-symbolic scenes featuring actions and posturing surprising from what at first seems to be a merely bloody revenge flick. Director Iñárritu takes a few valiant stabs at philosophical and spiritual themes with these vistas, and while he might have failed at taking the movie to the next level of intellectual heights, he certainly makes a name for himself for trying.
The End Result?
A movie simultaneously grand in scale and vague in plot; a movie stunning but outlandish; a movie enjoyable but immediately forgettable. As was noted in the ambiguity of the previews themselves, The Revenant never quite forms a story for itself and thus falters in some very important moments where it could have soared. Regardless, it was a magnificent attempt and by all means future movies from Iñárritu and DiCaprio will be well worth the wait and the watching.