Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Forrest Goodluck, Will Poulter

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

156 minutes

Stories of cast and crew on the brink of frostbite, Tom Hardy throttling Iñárritu at the director’s request, vegetarian DiCaprio opting to eat a raw cow’s liver for realism, the whole production moved from Canada to Argentina due to weather issues; all of this and more set up The Revenant to be something beyond your average revenge movie. A lot has already been written about The Revenant and the expectations are high, the big question being whether it can deliver.

The story follows a team of fur trappers on a hunting expedition in 1820s America. Led by Captain Andrew Henry (Gleeson), Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) and his half native American son Hawk (Goodluck) are part of a group recently decimated by an assault on their ranks. With most of their skins taken by the attackers, their only hope is to get back to base intact and return with additional numbers to retrieve the few remaining hides they have hidden away. Soon after however, Glass gets viciously attacked by a bear and is eventually left for dead by fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Hardy) who is more concerned for his pay than for the well-being of his colleagues.

The scene where DiCaprio is mauled by a maternally defensive brown bear has been well-documented but is worth a mention. In this one incident (and if you see one piece of cinema this year, you couldn’t go far wrong with those few minutes), The Revenant is summed up; brutal, terrifying, sickening, brilliant. It is difficult viewing and leaves you breathless. There are no shiny Hollywood white teeth in this movie, every detail is about pulling you into the bloody, grim, dangerous, filthy lives of the fur trappers. For that is what The Revenant is, and what it masters; utter brutality. At times it makes There Will Be Blood feel like Wayne’s World.

Filmed with only natural light, the movie aches realism, the beautiful but unforgiving terrain manages to make you shiver from the apparent comfort of your seat. It perfectly demonstrations how nature can ooze beauty while being simultaneously uncompromising, and reveals how it can quickly bring out both the humbling and ruthless extremes of human nature.

DiCaprio is brilliant. For a vast part of the film he is alone and dialogue-less with the camera inches from his face, moments from death, soaking up every movement and emotion of his expression and body, his survival instinct fired on by pure anger and the bloodlust of revenge.  If he doesn’t win an Oscar this year you wonder whether he ever will. Hardy is brilliant, Gleeson is excellent and every other role is played to perfection.

The Revenant is simply magnificent, not one second of its relatively long showing time is wasted. Every single member of cast and crew have pulled together to make this very likely the best film you will see this year.

9 / 10