Brutal. Beautiful. But primarily boring. Those three words perfectly sum up The Revenant. Sure, each frame of this film could have been framed as a painting, and sure, that Bear really went at Leo and got him pretty good, leaving him battered but not defeated. But at the end of the day, who cares? None of the central struggle was compelling or even interesting, and it felt like it kept repeating itself over and over and over again. This felt like a movie where everybody just wanted to put on display how great they were at their job, and none of it fit to make me care about any of it. The movie kept yelling “Hey, look how beautiful this shot is?” or “Hey, Leo and everybody else is really acting the hell out of this script, aren’t they?” or “Look at all of the camera movements, aren’t they swift and interesting? Well, aren’t they?” Ya, the movie looks great with great people being great at what they do, but none of that made me care. The film was too in love with itself to ever help me love it. It just kept yelling how awesome and great it was without ever proving it, and at the end of the day, it felt tedious, overlong and dull as hell.
This is basically two hours of the same thing before finally getting interesting at the end. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass, a frontiersmen who gets mauled by a bear on a fur trading expedition. Left for dead by his hunting tribe, he fights his way back and hunts for the man who not only left him for dead, but killed his son (this ma is played by Tom Hardy). The you have a Native American tribe pop up from time to time looking for that tribe, and these characters didn’t have a function except to hunt for Leo’s ex-tribe. They sometimes got killed, or killed, and that’s about it. We see the tribe, hunt, Leo gets mauled, and then survives the elements to hunt down Hardy. That sounds a lot more interesting than the movie actually was.
This film just feels like it was more about the process than the actual product. All we heard about was the intense shoot, the use of natural lighting and how much Leo suffered to give this performance. That was the entire narrative entering the movie, and now I know why, because the process of making this film is a lot more interesting than the actual movie.
There was about an hour left in this movie, and I really contemplated walking out of the theater, which I have never done before, simply because I didn’t care about watching another hour of what I just watched for the last 90 minutes. Luckily the last 30 minutes finally got interesting, with intense music and camera work, so at least there was a payoff for the trudge through the first 2. It wasn’t enough to save the movie, but at least it was something.
This was basically a movie where director Alejandro González Iñárritu just wanted to show off, over-indulging in the brutality, with repeated camera movements and landscape shots to simply show how beautiful of a movie he could make, and how great of a technical filmmaker he is.
So much of this film felt unnecessary, where Iñárritu took a very simple story and stretched it out to a little over 2.5 hours. After a little while, I stopped caring about Leo’s revenge mission and just wanted the movie to end. I was anxious for the moment that I could finally leave the theater and leave this movie behind. Yes, the performances were great, and it was a technically astonishing film, but Iñárritu simply could not restrain himself, and he told a very simple yet bold tale in the most dull and uninteresting way possible, over-indulging in the spectacle of it all, and I could feel every minute that I was in the theater.
However, with all of that being said, I will say that the best aspect of the movie was how intimate and aggressive the action sequences were filmed. The camera moved swiftly to capture everything, and the angles used and overall look and feel of these sequences felt raw and intense. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie couldn’t live up to this spectacle.