The Revenant (2015)

It takes a lot of money and a lot of talent to make a film as bad as The Revenant.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, who won Best Actor, and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won his second consecutive Best Director award, The Revenant cost 135 million dollars. I suppose a hefty chunk of it went to pay for DiCaprio’s salary. A lot more probably paid for travel expenses. The Revenant was filmed in four countries, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Argentina. That makes it the most expensive photo expedition in history. Just about the only thing worthwhile about this 156 minute long pile of crap is Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography, which is, it must be admitted, at least competent. Whether or not Lubezki deserved the Oscar for Best Cinematography is hard to judge. Like just about everything else in The Revenant, there’s simply too much of it. This is a film that goes on, and on, and on, and then it goes on some more. By the end, when the barely existent plot finally gets resolved, the viewer is simply too overwhelmed by all the sound and fury to have much an ability left to criticize what he, or she, has just seen.

I would like to call The Revenant a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, but it’s probably more accurate to say that it’s a lot of sound and fury signifying very little. Once you hack through all the distractions, it’s basically a superhero movie disguised as a western. Hugh Glass, DiCaprio, is a civilian guide for a United States Army expedition in the old Northwest territories. In the Winter of 1823, near the forks of the Grand River in what is now South Dakota, the expedition is attacked by a group of Arikara Indians. Initially, Iñárritu gives us very little context for the attack. Later we learn that the chief of the Arikara is looking for his daughter, who’s been kidnapped, and held as a sex slave by the French. It would have been an interesting plot line for a more stripped down, disciplined film, a kind of “The Searchers” in reverse, but Iñárritu isn’t particularly concerned with developing it. It’s just one more distraction in a hale storm of distractions. What Iñárritu has brought us all the way into the deep wilderness to witness, aside from arrow after arrow killing hunter after hunter, is Hugh Glass being mauled by gigantic, and incredibly fast, grizzly bear. I’m honestly not sure if it‘s CGI or Jesse Owens in a bear suit, but whatever it is, it can almost certainly run the 100-yard dash in less than 10 seconds.

DiCaprio – I can’t keep calling DiCaprio Hugh Glass when he’s obviously playing DiCaprio – is clawed and bitten and stomped and bear butt fucked until he’s almost dead. At this point, his superhero powers are developed to the point where he can survive an attack by a gigantic grizzly bear with a huge, throbbing erection, but not quite wrestle him off. I’d say the sex was consensual, but if I did I’d piss off a lot of feminists and besides, I don’t think it was. With DiCaprio near death, the expedition’s commander, Captain Hugh Henry – a complete moron played by the same actor who got rejected by the lovely Saoirse Ronan in the film Brooklyn – does what any good officer does. He leaves a dying man in the care of his mortal enemy.

DiCaprio won Best Actor for playing DiCaprio in The Revenant. It’s absurd. In this film, he’s not even very good at playing DiCaprio. All he does is grunt a lot and occasionally hand off a scene to his stunt double. The only person in The Revenant who does any acting at all is Tom Hardy, who plays John Fitzgerald, a hunter with a special grudge against the Indians, and against DiCaprio for marrying an Indian woman and having a half Indian son. Hardy’s performance isn’t anywhere near Oscar quality, but at least he tries, or, to be more specific, at least he works up a credible imitation of the kind of western stock villain we’ve seen in 1000 other movies.

Most superheros have an origin story. Peter Parker, for example, gets bit by a radioactive spider. For Hugh Glass, it’s lying half dead and watching the evil John Fitzgerald stab his son. After that his body seems capable of regenerating dead tissue. He digs his way out of a shallow grave. He escapes the same band of Indians that attacked the original expedition by swimming through a thundering stretch of rapids. He kills a Frenchmen raping an Indian woman, then kills two more for good measure, and steals a horse. Later in the movie, he rides the horse over a cliff to escape yet another band of Indians, falls what looks to be over 100 feet, then slices open the horse, which died, and shelters himself inside its guts against an oncoming blizzard.

By the time DiCaprio makes it back to Fort Kiowa and his old commanding officer Hugh Henry, John Fitzgerald is in full panic mode, not necessarily because he knows that Henry will try to charge him with murder – Henry is so dumb that he goes out alone to try to bring Fitzgerald to justice and of course gets himself killed – but because the now superhuman DiCaprio is coming to take his revenge. Of course Fitzgerald dies in the end. Whether or not it’s at the hands of DiCaprio you’ll have to find out for yourself since I don’t want to spoil the movie. Oh never mind. I don’t care about spoiling the movie. The Indians do it. By this time you really don’t care about The Revenant’s plot anyway. You just want it to be over.

You leave the theater feeling as if you’ve just been raped by a bear.

Update: According to a press release by 20th Century Fox, the bear is female and what appears to be bear on DiCaprio rape is merely very rough bear on DiCaprio foreplay.

40 thoughts on “The Revenant (2015)”

    1. The movie was not that bad, you should see it for yourself. Some people think the Movie “Dumb and Dumber” is a classic o.O
      They could have made it more accurate based on the real life of the people they acted out.
      Just makes you want to read about their story after the movie.

            1. Which tells you how much money they had to throw around. In the 1940s or 1950s, they would have just found a ski resort with a snow machine somewhere in California (or Canada if they didn’t want to pay union wages). Or they would have found some way around it. This was a Heavens Gate obsession with sets over actually telling the story.

    1. This is the kind of film Anthony Mann would have made infinitely better in the 1950s for $100,000 dollars. The sad thing is you don’t even look forward to DiCaprio killing Fitzgerald. It’s not even a good revenge movie. How exactly do you mess up a revenge film? That takes a lot of skill.

        1. Tom Hardy was the only one in the film acting. A better script might have made him a better villain, but honestly I’ve seen his character in 1000 other westerns.

          1. Tom Hardy was basically the only thing worthwile in the film. Can’t stop thinking about Mad Max and all its other triumphs. I couldn’t care less about Oscar’s criteria, but I would say DiCaprio deserved it for the Wolf, not the Bear (hur hur.. btw funny article. and although I like to swear and being ironic, I enjoy you most when you are just serious :P).

            Although the obvious CGI, I think the bear scene surprised me more for its pace and the double-attack structure. The come back of the mommy bear was the only thing in the movie that made me feel anything.

  1. Love the review, that was terrific. I didn’t quite feel that extremely about it, but you have a lotta great points. It was quite overrated as much is today.

      1. No doubt Kanye will have it made into a one off for his wife, damn what is her name? Now I get it, fake fur for fake people and an industry spins on. Great piece, loved it. S

  2. Sad to see “attacking Indians” as part of a film in 2015. Can we just get over the “cowboys and Indians” thing? Columbus made a mistake, you know – 500 years later we’re still stuck with “indians”. Why does this whole colossal lie continue? I have no wish to see Hollywood stupidity featuring arrows and indians. Thanks for the review, roguski.

    1. Big disappointment. Iñárritu, who’s Mexican and certainly part Indian, portrays Indians no differently from the way John Ford did in the 1930s, like part of the scenery.

      1. I am mexican, and Iñarritu doesn’t represent what we mexicans think or do or are. That’s why we send him there to the States, because we send our worst and keep our best.

          1. My condolences to Celine for her (real) tragic loss of her husband. Perhaps Canada has sent her to the USA, I know her widowhood is fresh, and I don’t wish to be insulting, however as a “pop diva” perhaps she could be Trump’s Nancy Reagan??

              1. I think Celine is currently in Vegas, doing that casino thing. I don’t think you’ll see Neil there. My favorite American singer-songwriter of the moment is Carrie Newcomer, her CD, “Kindred Spirits” is a good collection of her songs written from a Quaker’s spiritual perspective. “I believe in a good strong cup of ginger tea” from her song “I Believe” is the simple yet earnest lyrical journeys we get swept into. Stands up to repeated listening. (At least for me.)

  3. Of course the movie was bad. You make it sound as funny but it’s not, it’s boring, it’s stupid.

  4. It’s amazing that the scope of the movie, survival against terrifying adversity, and the power of forgiveness, is lost with this person’s review. That’s what the internet has reduced much of society to, making cheap shots with no ‘skin in the game’. If you’d had any brush with death, or tried to keep a loved one from dying, you wouldn’t be making comments about “being #$%# by a buffalo”. As for the reference to feminists being angry with the comments, they have every right to be. This reviewer has just reduced all their suffering to a line he thought was funny. This movie is a masterpiece, and YOU like the character of Fitzgerald, are not worthy.

    1. I actually did have a brush with death 3 years ago when someone opened the door of an SUV when I was riding my bike. But I still don’t see the appeal of this poorly written film. Sorry.

  5. I didn’t feel DiCaprio was as poor in the film as you make him out to be, but I agree with the fact that this movie was “a lot of sound and fury signifying very little”. Great review!

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