The Revenant is as tense as it is dramatic, bringing together some of the finest acting with some of the most technical camera work in the last 10 years.
Telling the story of survival and revenge, we follow Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a frontiersman abandoned in the wilderness by his hunting team after being viciously attacked by a bear.
After the overwhelming success of Birdman last year, many people would have thought Alejandro González Iñárritu would have taken his Oscar and chilled out on a beach for a while. Instead however, the accomplished director amassed an insanely talented cast, went to one of the most inhospitable environments and decided to use some old school filming techniques to create one of the most exciting stories in the last 10 years.
To say this is a directing triumph would be quite the understatement. Choosing to shoot on location adds a level of authenticity that the studios would never have been able to recreate. Using natural light for instance really gives you an out-door experience while the sounds of the river help to create an intensity from a source you would not have expected. These techniques, although forgotten in most films today, create a depth that is felt throughout the whole film and ironically brings something new to the fore.
Further adding to the spectacle, Iñárritu captures each scene brilliantly. Mixing the way he uses the camera while preserving the tone is integral to keeping the pace going – the war scenes for example cast the idea that it’s been caught in one long shot, helping to build intensity nicely.
One of the strongest elements though happens to be its use of a score. Mimicking a heartbeat, a sultry drum helps to frame the audience emotion, telling you when to feel nervous, sad or even angry. Its subtle use is great for the drama and is slowly becoming a trademark of talented director.
Considering the general concept of the film, the screenplay is surprisingly well paced with smaller scenes short enough to create excitement rather than waste away the time. Interestingly, the environment is used like a character in its own right. This then creates an interesting dynamic on screen as it’s there to constantly remind the audience of the environment and the conditions that these men would have been in.
DiCaprio is amazing, taking on the character in a way that not many other people would. With rumours circulating regarding his intense commitment to the shoot, it really seems to pay off dividends with am insanely strong performance. Tom Hardy is great as the main villain and although its a character that we have seen him play before, his place is to drive the plot along which he does without hesitation. Domnhall Gleeson is great as the lead huntsman and there is even a decent performance from Will Poulter.
Everything that takes place within the 2 hour running time is enough to give you a small heart attack. With some intense performances, breathe-taking visuals and a simple, well defined plot, The Revenant is not something that will be forgotten any time soon. 5 out of 5 stars