Last year director Alejandro González Iñárritu gave us the widely praised and popular ‘Birdman’. There was a lot I liked and admired about this film but it failed to become one of my favourites of the year. When I heard about ‘The Revenant’ I had hopes that this was a story that I could enjoy more. With a cast including two of my favourite actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, I began to believe that this could be a great film, and I was right.
Let’s talk about that cast first off. We all know that Leonardo DiCaprio is a fantastic actor and it’s a shame that he’s never been recognised by the Academy but I think at this stage he’s bigger than the Oscars. He has put in so many fantastic performances over the years and his performance in ‘The Revenant’ is no different. A more physical performance this time round but it’s just amazing how he transpires what his character is experiencing, he is so so talented. His surrounding cast do very well too, Tom Hardy is also playing a more physical role here. However Hardy is no stranger to roles like these although the script allows him a couple of moments to really shine and showcase just why he’s such a great actor. Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter make up the rest of the bigger named cast and they fulfill their roles nicely, it was good that these weren’t just throw away characters and that they both serve a purpose. The cast certainly do their part and whilst at first some of the their accents makes the dialogue a little hard to understand the sound of the film actually develops into one of the films best elements. The way sound is used and highlighted throughout the film is wonderful and really creates an authentic viewing experience, coupled with the superb performances these elements really transport you into the narrative. The score was such an asset too, not being an entirely predictable arrangement. At times it feels like it’s been lifted from a futuristic sci-fi flick but somehow it works so well here. Possibly my favourite element to the film.
This is a very violent film, but violence in films has never bothered me. Personally I think it increases tension and can make things more realistic and these are two things that violence contributes to in ‘The Revenant’. There are a few really fantastic sequences in the film which are more action heavy and feature said violence. One sequence of battle was reminiscent of the opening to ‘Saving Private Ryan’ which should tell you just how impressive it was. Thanks to such great sequences in the film I can find very little wrong with it apart from its over long mid-section. Whilst it’s never long in a boring or monotonous way it does become slightly over indulgent and long for the sake of being long. The reason this is never too much of an issue though is due to the fact that the film looks so good. It has such a fantastic setting which is most definitely a character in itself. The director gives the setting the attention it deserves and it’s so worth it. The way ‘The Revenant’ is shot also helps contribute to its beauty. During the action sequences the scene might start with a point of view shot and then ease into a sweeping 360 degree shot. The effort and ease is reminiscent of the wonderfully edited continuous shot in ‘Birdman’. Futhermore, on the one occasion that CGI is used it is so impressive.
Personally I think that Alejandro González Iñárritu has improved upon his Oscar winning effort, ‘Birdman’. ‘The Revenant’ is a film that will certainly appeal to the masses more. It’s wide appeal will come from it’s simple but involved story, fantastic performances, its wonderful sounds and the beautiful appearance it has. ‘The Revenant’ is a fantastic piece of film-making but also a highly entertaining movie, a combination you don’t always get too often these days.
Rating – 9/10
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