ByJames Wood, writer at
Unabashed Transformers fan. Man crush on Tom Hardy. Avid fan of Tommy Wiseau's cult disasterpiece The Room.
James Wood

The big question I still have now after viewing The Revenant is how? How on earth did the filmmakers capture the things they did on camera? This film, alongside [Mad Max: Fury Road](tag:41445), are 2015's most technically complex and bold, groundbreaking films. I love being able to state "I've never seen anything like it" when reviewing a film, because The Revenant is so unique and original, it genuinely is set apart from the rest. Alejandro González Iñárritu takes a massive step forward from Birdman and proves he is serious talent.

Every single shot in this two hour plus thriller leaves you with your jaw dropped, eyes widened with complete and utter awe at the scope of this epic. The crew must've had to wait for ages to capture some of the shots seen here. I've read in interviews and articles that the logistics of transportation and accessing the tricky locations meant that numerous rehearsals and expert timing were key to achieving some of the sequences here, which depended heavily on the weather and sunlight, as this movie relies on all natural lighting. The results are tremendous. From burning embers glowing off the snowy terrain to sunlight glistening through drops of melted snow, this cinematography is Oscar worthy and to me, some of the finest ever put to film. Even if you don't like The Revenant, one cannot deny how beautiful it looks.

Left for dead after a brutal bear attack, Hugh Glass makes a treacherous journey across uncharted wilderness to track down his confidant John Fitzgerald, who killed his son in cold blood. Simple revenge plot notwithstanding, there is so much more to this film than just vengeance. Survival is the obvious main theme but it's never looked this good before, in terms of gritty realism and absolutely brutality, the pain these characters go through left me with my teeth gritted feeling their pain too, as the incredible close-up shots centres on the scars and injury the characters succumb to.

The main score in The Revenant is so simple yet atmospheric, haunting, bleak and beautiful. The three strings that creep in at specific moments keep the tone consistent throughout, this is one of those rare films that makes you feel there is no hope in the cold unforgiving world without leaving you completely down and depressed. DiCaprio's performance is physically demanding and he sells the anxiety, urgency and pain so well, and despite only having a few lines, he gives another compelling career performance, but I don't feel it's Oscar worthy, but you have to admire what he went through to embody his character in this gruelling adventure.

Tom Hardy, however, deserves the best supporting actor. He made me hate his character for all the right reasons, as John Fitzgerald is a selfish, unstable and arrogant brute with a past that clearly affects his current actions. Hardy is terrifying at times as he has this look of a mad dog, accompany that with his flawless accent that at times is rather hard to understand yet that works so well. He's had a great year with films like Fury Road, Child 44 and Legend, and add this to his roster of 2015 and that's some serious talent and range he's packed into a year.

The Revenant packs some of the most realistic and unbelievably tremendous action sequences. The first scene being the attack on the riverside camp boasts technical prowess, singular takes capturing action from every inch of the frame, how this was achieved left me in awe. The bear scene everyone is talking about hits like a bullet between the eyes, it's relentless and grisly and me and my mates were trying to look away but at the same time not because of how realistic and savage this moment is. Then things get even more mental when DiCaprio rides a horse off a cliff edge and down into a ravine, follow that up with a shootout and final confrontation with Hardy, you're left gasping for air by the ending.

Easily up in the top five films of 2015, The Revenant must not be missed. No excuses, go and see this intense masterpiece of filmmaking. The performances hit hard, the violence and action go hand in hand superbly and the cinematography is just pure art, top to bottom.


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