"The Revenant" is raw and cruel. It harnesses violence, fires point blank, igniting one of Leonardo DiCaprio's greatest achievements yet.
The film follows Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), a trapper and guide for a small military expedition team. The violence he endures is relentless both physically and emotionally. It is only through his seething anger that he is able to overcome these obstacles.
The wilderness where "The Revenant" takes place draws out primal instincts from its characters. The will to survive emits in everyone as each chooses between loyalties to a wounded comrade or faces massacre against an enemy, seething with rage.
It is a revenge story. As the original novel version by Michael Punke claimed it was. And like many revenge films, there are graphic exploitations involved. The destruction of the Native American weighs as colonists and settlers move in from the west, capturing each crop of land that would eventually lead to the massacre of the New World's indigenous people.
This is not a film about cowboys and Indians. In fact, it does little to dramatize the scenarios of how the indigenous people's lives were changed because of the white folk. It is all about Glass and his torturous journey, crawling 200 miles from Point A to Point B, almost dying, to get his revenge.
The visuals are beautiful. The long takes are horrifying, breathtaking, and captivating. The colors are both rich and surreal as the trek from a snowy forest and up the mountains, down to the frozen lake, across the white emptiness, driven to a cliff after a hot pursuit with arrows whizzing through the air. The sceneries of both emptiness of the wild and the destruction of villages are frightening, almost claustrophobic in isolation despite having this vast, empty space.
Glass' journey, mostly alone, is itself a meditation, a spiritual journey in which he forgives himself for failing to protect his Native Indian wife. Though, without spoiling anything, things about death were quick to escalate, and that forgiveness Glass seemed to search for, was only lost in chaotic spiral of things. Things did get worst. And in a way, it was the very thing that saved Glass from death."The Revenant" is one of the biggest highlights this year. It's a powerful presence that reminds everyone that excellent storytelling through a two or three-hour film continues to exist. If you haven't seen it yet, there's still some time to check it out.