By Matthew Shircliffe–
“I’m not afraid to die anymore. I’ve done it already.”
These are the words said by Hugh Glass who battled the harsh nature, inclement weather, deadly native tribes, and animalistic power hungry French traders.
Receiving 12 Oscar nominations, critical acclaim, and a ton of heartache, “The Revenant” finally arrived at theaters everywhere last Friday and it was absolutely breathtaking.
Breathtaking is the best word to describe the stunning cinematography, the unbelievable feat of filming using natural lighting , the harrowing visuals, unique storytelling, exceptional directing from Alejandro G. Iñárritu and the outstanding performances by both Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy who return collaborating together from their 2010 cult-hit “Inception.”
To no one’s surprise, they both deliver performances that will comfortably stick with you as both of them carry in on all fronts, especially DiCaprio who hands in a truly authentic and committed performance to ignite this memorable tale escalating what is the frontrunner for the “Best Picture” for the upcoming Academy Awards.
“The Revenant” hits the mark in every way. Alejandro G. Iñárritu who directed last year’s Oscar winner “Best Picture” for Birdman is back again gathering another all-star ensemble from the aforementioned DiCaprio, and Hardy, as well as the rising star Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson who all play a part of DiCaprio’s crew in the film.
In a story of man versus nature, the year is 1823 and the film’s main protagonist, Hugh Glass, played by DiCaprio, leads an expedition where he and his crew hunt for pelts in the wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase. As he strays off from his crew for a moment, he is mauled and badly wounded by a grizzly bear.
As he is drenched with blood, plagued with scars and foaming from the mouth, DiCaprio is left in a daze, and to add insult to injury the enormous grizzly is mounted on top of DiCaprio, motionless and dead after he stabs the bear with a hunting knife. This utterly shocking and graphic illustration of the attack is brilliantly choreographed and shot as one of the most realistic and well-acted scenes I have ever witnessed in cinematic history.
One of the crew members, John Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy, plays the grim antagonist who is contracted to go and help the crew hunt for pelts. After the crew saves Glass and tends to his wounds, who at this point is unable to speak and can barely move, they are slowed down as they carry him on a stretcher.
Fitzgerald makes it apparent that Glass has become a liability and should be put out of his misery. As the crew reluctantly agrees, Fitzgerald, Glass’ son Hawk, and another member stay back to aid the ailing Glass, agreeing to be compensated more once they reach camp for their heroic efforts in helping Glass. After an argument between Fitzgerald and Glass’ son escalates, Fitzgerald stabs Hawk in front of Glass, who can see but is unable to speak or move. Fitzgerald then does the unthinkable and literally buries Glass alive, flees back to the crew’s camp, leaving him for dead after murdering his son.
Filled with rage and vengeance for his boy’s murder, Glass’ will and determination to survive to avenge his son’s death is incredible. Without spoiling too much, some of the details in this film are mesmerizing and straight up draining. Everything from soldering his neck with gun powder to sleeping in a dead horse completely nude, Mother Nature tests Glass’ spirit and does everything to knock him down. The riveting hardships and uncomfortable challenges Glass faces throughout the film to survive become more and more unforgiving, and at times, unbearable.
The film is almost a metaphor, or allusion to Leonardo DiCaprio’s entire career. A man that has poured his heart and life into film giving astonishing performances in films such as “Titanic”, “Inception”, “Revolutionary Road” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”, he has consistently been overlooked for the “Best Male Lead.” He literally risks his life filming “The Revenant” almost succumbing to hyperthermia, living off of real bison liver, and the painfully long shooting days, where the temperature would drop to 40 below zero. DiCaprio was determined to pull off one of his finest roles and to finally win the award that has eluded him for his entire career.
With all the grueling conditions, and the praise DiCaprio has received thus far; Tom Hardy should not be overlooked for his acting. Portraying a character that has clearly lost his mind and gives off this weird vibe of a psychopathic mad man, who is money hungry. Hardy had to follow up what could be the performance of the year from DiCaprio and put his own spin on a character giving the second best performance.
He plays someone who we all love to hate, playing this selfish bully, who is just pushing his way around and stepping on everyone else to get what he wants. Its almost like Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight” where every second he is on screen, you are just engrossed with his character and it builds remarkably. Hardy is up for “The Best Male Supporting” role, which he deserves with such a spell-binding, chilling performance.
The pacing is extraordinary, the tone is gloomy, and the action is relentless, which only perpetuates this tale about survival, betrayal, perseverance, and ultimately revenge, to great heights from what could be one of the greatest ever and what might finally be the role that gives not just DiCaprio his overdue Oscar win, but Tom Hardy, as well.