The Revenant follows the story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), an explorer who escaped an Indian attack with a few of his fellow explorers, including John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter). When navigating their way back to their home town, Hugh is attacked by a bear. He's crippled and on the verge of death. Contrary to the captain's orders, Fitzgerald leaves him for dead, also murdering his son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck). Cold and crippled in the middle of nowhere, Hugh begins his journey home, hoping for saviour, but preparing for the worse. It's a tough and relentless journey through the winter, death never trailing too far behind.
The first thirty minutes of this film is seriously brutal, almost to an excessive degree. The film opens with an Indian attack. It's a slow, drawn out and gruesome affair that lasts way longer than it needed to. We're treated to the sight of many unnamed men getting slaughtered in vicious ways, ranging from decapitation to being set on fire. I'm not against violence in movies, but when it's shown for the sake of showing it, then I'll have a problem with it. This opening sequence is more violent than it needed to be, and eventually it just gets tiresome and dull. It has no focus, chaos ensuring all over the place. I was never sure what was going on. If the scene had been shortened and focussed in on our protagonists, it could make for an intense and exciting opening. But it doesn't do that.
From here on out, The Revenant is a tale of survival, and while it can drag from time to time, it's certainly one of the best made films of 2015. Birdman, like I've said on many occasions, isn't one of my favourite films of 2014. It is, however, one of the most impressive films on a technical scale. The same can be said about The Revenant. It's a beautiful looking movie, Emmanuel Lubezki proving once again that he is a master at cinematography. He's able to capture the beauty and rawness of life, using all natural lighting and giving the camera a mind of its own. We need to get Emmanuel Lubezki to do the camerawork on every movie.
The other standout of the film is Tom Hardy, who's a standout in just about every film he's in. Sporting a new and impressive accent, Hardy is here to attempt to out-act DiCaprio, and I'm not going to lie, he nearly gets there. He's given arguably the same amount of screen time as DiCaprio during the film's first half and it's here that his performance really shines. He's a despicable character and while there's less of him in the second half, his performance is still quite magical, so to speak. He shows a side we haven't from him seen before.
To sum up, The Revenant is a grand achievement when it comes to the film's technical side. The performances, cinematography and directing are just fantastic. The film itself is a different story. It's an over violent drag with only a few moments of brilliance.