Opening this week: ‘The Revenant’

“INTENSE!  DiCaprio gives an acting performance with which I am not familiar.  Yes, he’s that good!  The forty-one year old Wolf of Wall Street is gritty, gangly and tough. Very tough.”

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

The Revenant

With the theater release of “The Revenant” later this week, Leonardo DiCaprio will formally stake his claim to an Academy Award nomination—setting in motion a strong case for grabbing his first-ever Oscar statuette.  In this true fur trapping story set along the Rocky Mountains in 1823, DiCaprio gives an acting performance with which I am not familiar.  Yes, he’s that good!  The forty-one year old Wolf of Wall Street is gritty, gangly and tough. Very tough.

Joining last year’s Oscar-winning best director, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (“Birdman”), DiCaprio plays scout Hugh Glass, who is left behind by members of his own fur company group following a life-threatening bear attack. Using his wits and will to survive another day, DiCaprio’s Glass must navigate unforgiving territory 200 miles during a brutal winter while under constant threat of attack from Indians.


This movie smartly combines austere weather conditions with warring tribes and a compelling revenge factor, all resulting in a wildly successful trifecta win for moviegoers. Opposite DiCaprio’s quiet, determined role of group guide, stars “Mad Max: Fury Road” lead Tom Hardy as the film’s antagonist and bad apple.

“The Revenant” is an intense and adrenaline-rushing frontier adventure! The opening scene is a nail-biter with events coming fast and furious from all directions—akin to a shorter version of the chaos found along Omaha Beach at the start of 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan”.

Despite redundant flashback sequences and an overly simplistic storyline, “The Revenant” succeeds because of DiCaprio’s powerful ability to invoke Glass’ tenacity and sheer willpower through the big-screen.  DiCaprio, although handicapped by few words in the script, impressively uses his extraordinary physical acting skills to depict the tracker’s serious outdoor hardships and endurance.

“The Revenant” ending, while somewhat anti-climactic, is magnificently presented as an over-the-top bloody showdown…reminiscent of MTV’s gruesome Claymation Celebrity Deathmatch videos.

Aside from the stellar match-up between DiCaprio and his nemesis Tom Hardy, audiences will become spellbound by the visual eye-candy throughout “The Revenant”.  Encompassing superb camera shots of snowy mountain conditions and icy streams, this picturesque film is the gold-standard for cinematography and will leave viewers fascinated and talking about its beauty well beyond the upcoming movie awards season.

Will this epic story of survival and retaliation be enough for Leo to finally take home an Oscar?  Most likely.  What DiCaprio lacks in dialogue is more than made up for by his chilling, physical endeavor on film.  Watch for the cold, wet realism that actually fogs up a camera lens in one scene to finally clear, leaving DiCaprio as the Academy Award front-runner come February.

Grade: A-

“The Revenant” is rated R for strong frontier combat and violence, including gory images, a sexual assault and brief nudity.  Its running time is 2 hours and 36 minutes.


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