What makes a great movie? Is it a great cast, script, budgeting, director or a composite? One thing is for sure, for a movie to receive so much critical acclaim, it must come up with the goods. Alejandro Innaritu’s, ‘The Revenant’ is a movie that embodies all the aforementioned qualities and then some.
After having received critical acclaim for critics the world over, ‘The Revenant’ is still captivating audiences with its brutality and it’s personification of the passion exemplified by all the players in its making. When you display as much passion as the crew and cast of this masterpiece have done, then you are bound to come up with a work of beauty.
For most who are unfamiliar with Alejandro Innaritu’s work, the most recent work and most talked about, before ‘The Revenant’, was ‘Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’. This was a movie that went the distance as far being nominate for the 2015 Academy Awards for the Best Picture, which it eventually lost out to ‘The Theory of Everything’. The intensity that went into making that movie was surpassed by ‘The Revenant’. All the critics agree that this movie displayed exemplary focus and commitment from cast and crew.
So what is the background of the movie?
For starters, it is based on the 2002 book by Michael Punke. The central character is 19th Century American explorer, Hugh Glass who metes out his revenge on those who left him behind after a bear attack.
In the movie, Hugh Glass is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie starts with a hunting party of trappers and hunters are driven away from the mountains by the Arikara Indians. A brutal battle ensue with just half the hunting party barely making it out alive. Led by Captain Andrew Henry, played by, Domhnall Gleeson, the hunters escape but are pursued relentlessly by the Arikara.
During the course of the escape, Hugh Glass gets separated from the group and is mauled by female grizzly bear. Hugh is seriously injured but manages to shoot and then stab the bear.
Hugh’s injuries are very serious and John Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy, suggests that they kill him because he is ‘slowing’ them down. Henry is reluctant to do the dirty job, instead opting to pay a few of the men to stay behind with Glass. Fitzgerald throws cold water on that suggestion after two boys volunteer, saying that all of them will die. The boys retract their participation prompting Henry to up the money. A greedy Fitzgerald gleefully agrees to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of Glass.
After the party leaves, Fitzgerald attempts to kill Glass but is interrupted by Hawk, Glass’s son. Fitzgerald kills Hawk and covers up his crime after Bridger asks him about his whereabouts. He concocts some story that Hawk was accosted by and killed by the Arikara at the river and suggests to Bridger that they abandon Glass. Bridger agrees and they leave Glass to die.
Fitzgerald and Bridger eventually reach their barracks outpost where they find Captain Henry. When Henry inquires about Glass’ health, Fitzgerald, batting an eye, blatantly lied that Hawk and Glass succumbed to the elements.
Meanwhile, Glass tries his best to make his way home. In his journey back, he encounters a lot of hardship. His most difficult moment is when he is forced to flee the Arikara by jumping off a cliff with a horse, injuring him further.
After a few days, a Frenchman makes his way to Henry’s outpost with Glass’s canteen prompting speculation that he, the Frenchman, had stolen it from Glass. Henry organizes a search party that eventually discovers Glass’s alive.
Upon discovering the Glass is alive and his deception has been brought to the fore, Fitzgerald breaks into the safe, get the money and then flees.
The climactic moment of the movie is the final showdown between Glass and Fitzgerald at a river. Instead of killing Fitzgerald, Glass gives him to the furious Arikara tribe.
From the beginning to the end, we root for Glass who embodies what we all aspire to be; resilient in the face insurmountable odds.
Leo’s performance as Glass is award worthy as he makes us emotionally invested in him to the very end. While his past performances in past films have been extraordinary in the past, this one proves to the best one yet. However, with Leo, his next dazzling performance is round the next corner.