Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “The Revenant” is the best revenge western since “The Unforgiven” and is more than likely to capture him his second directing Academy Award in a row (Birdman).
“The Revenant,” which is based on the novel by Michael Punke, drastically deviates from the book, but in this case the plot twists work out wonderfully. In 1823 The Trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) and a few dozen men, work their way north to bag some bounty (we are never told exactly where they are at, but we know they are somewhere in the Plains states). While resting at camp the men are surprise attacked by a band of Arikara Indians in a brutal scene where arrows start flying and men are scalped. Trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his half – Pawnee Indian son Hawk are out hunting but they hear the gunshots of the men trying to defend themselves. Racing back to camp they see the carnage and take refuge with the survivors on their riverboat.
Henry now decides that they return to base camp and Glass recommends they ditch the boat and travel by foot because of the possibility of ambush. John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a man who despises both Henry and Glass, disagrees with the decision, but abides by the order. As the men traverse the wilderness, Glass is mauled by a grizzly bear in a horrifically graphic scene. Henry now orders Hawk, a young man named Bridger (Will Poulter), and Fitzgerald, to stay with Glass until they can return. After the men leave, Fitzgerald decides he doesn’t want to hang around anymore, and in despicable act of treachery he takes Glass’ rifle and leaves him to die. The stage is set for revenge.
The rest of the movie deals with Glass’ determined journey of revenge. The films bleak aura and ominous tone, which were shot on location in Canada and Argentina, are colossal works of art. At times the movie drags towards the center of the story, but we know there is going to be hell to pay at the end. DiCaprio, despite having only a couple dozen lines, is outstanding as the mauled trapper. Tom Hardy is equally terrific as the despicable villain, Fitzgerald. Revenant is nominated for 12 Academy Awards, and look for DiCaprio (Best Actor), Hardy (Best Supporting Actor), Inarritu (Director), and the film itself (Best Picture), to sweep those categories.
(Rated R/156 mins/drama-adventure)
Reviewer’s Notes: “The Revenant” is based on the true events of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.
Reviewer’s Rating: 5 of 5 Maulings