DiCaprio and cast shine in the thrilling The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass in the thriller the Revenant.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass in the thriller the Revenant.

By Franklin Mejia, Staff Writer

 There’s a lot of hype surrounding The Revenant. It stars arguably the world’s most popular actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, alongside another of the world’s finest actors, Tom Hardy. Sitting in the director’s chair is Alejandro González Iñárritu, the man who helmed the Oscar winning Birdman. Crazily, it was chronologically filmed using only natural daylight. And of course, there’s the bear scene which even before the film’s release has become the stuff of legend.

So does The Revenant live up to all the hype? You bet it does. Adapted from Michael Punke’s 2002 fact-based novel of the same name, The Revenant sees Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) guiding a fur trapping squadron as they make their way back from an expedition. When Glass momentarily finds himself separated from the group, he’s viciously attacked by a bear and on the verge of death.

Along with Glass’s half Native American son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) and rookie Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), the experienced trapper John Fitzgerald (Hardy) volunteers to give Glass a proper burial once he’s taken his last breath. Instead Fitzgerald betrays him majorly and leaves the near-dead Glass buried alive. Fueled by rage, Glass refuses to die and goes on an epic journey to deliver retribution.

They say “Revenge is a dish best served cold”, and that’s exactly how you’ll feel watching The Revenant. From the get-go, Iñárritu’s incredibly immersive direction seizes you from your seat and plunges you into the unforgiving 19th century American wilderness. The audience are left just as exposed to the harsh extreme elements as the characters onscreen are.

But just as Iñárritu showcases nature as a force to be reckoned with he also displays its vast beauty. Whether it’s wondrous waterfalls, mesmerising mountain ranges or towering treetops, every landscape captured by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki flaunts the elegance and grace of the untouched natural world.

As well as stunning scenery, Iñárritu crafts a couple of awe-inspiring action scenes. Within the first five minutes Glass and co are ambushed by a bloodthirsty Native American tribe and what ensues is a breath-taking and brutal battle. It’s shot in a long continuous take, similar to those in Birdman, which adds an extra layer of sizzling intensity to the already fierce fight.

And then there’s THAT bear scene. Big screen bears – Baloo, Paddington, Yogi – are normally the friendly kind but the grizzly in The Revenant has absolutely no intentions of being anyone’s buddy. The way the bear savagely mauls at Glass is jaw-dropping as the realistic CGI and DiCaprio’s perfect selling of the attack will lead to one of the biggest ‘OMG’ moments you’ll ever experience watching a film.

Whatever part he plays, DiCaprio is someone you root for and after such a gruesome encounter with a bear, you’ll root for him even harder.

Glass is a man of few words thanks to the attack which left him unable to talk, so he grunts and pants instead. DiCaprio being the amazing actor he is doesn’t need much dialogue as through every movement he communicates pure emotion. His facial expressions tell you everything you need to know as you see every ounce of pain he’s going through, his steely will to stay alive and his mental plotting of payback. As usual, DiCaprio hurls himself into role in his most physical part to date.

His co-star, Hardy, is no stranger to physicality and just as he did in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and last year’s Legend, he seethes with sinister intentions. His self-centred money-motivated redneck is a scumbag but in typical Hardy fashion, he’s an utterly magnetic character. Although similarly to Bane, Hardy’s Fitzgerald is a little mumbly but when you can understand him you’re hooked on his every word. Gleeson, who seems to have appeared in everything over the past 12 months, and Poulter (The Maze Runner) are also impressive as they deliver a pair of superb supporting performances.

While The Revenant has a wealth of wonders, it may not be for everyone.

There’s no denying the beauty of seeing trees blowing in the breeze, snow slowly falling to the ground or the trickling of glacial water but sometimes it feels like Iñárritu lingers too long on sights like these which will understandably leave some viewers, who are hungry for more DiCaprio and Hardy, a little bored at times.

And at 2 and a half hours long, it maybe could have done with 10 -15 minutes shaved off to keep a tighter focus on its stars.

But then again, it’s supposed to be a grueling and exhausting watch. It’s so wild it feels like an episode of Bear Grylls on steroids. Although there are shades of Terence Malick and a Kill Bill meets Apocalypto vibe, on the whole The Revenant offers a viewing experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Its sensational visuals and sheer boldness mean it deserves to be seen on the biggest screen as possible. Unflinching, uncompromising and unforgettable.