The Revenant movie poster
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The Revenant movie poster

The Revenant Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Some people just can't let things go. Take Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant for example: he gets to watch as his son is murdered, and then he's left for dead, half buried and crippled 200 miles from civilization… And even though he manages to survive--somehow--he just can't let bygones be bygones.

People who hold grudges are just the worst.

At least Leonardo DiCaprio, who delivers another award-winning performance despite replacing dialogue with largely unintelligible grunts for much of the movie, is terrific as a person who is just the worst. And Tom Hardy, who plays the so-called villain, a pragmatic albeit racist son of a bitch who his just looking out for his own, is also amazing.

The Revenant, directed by Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman), is also quite amazing at times, featuring some absolutely stunning cinematography and beautiful photography that, despite the two-and-a-half hour running time, keeps you engaged and often breathless from beginning to end. Though there isn't a lot of explicit action, the action that does occur is hypnotic, intense and carnal. And even when Leo is dragging himself through forests, limping away from Native Americans, falling off cliffs or climbing inside dead horses, danger is never far away.

The movie only falters in a few places. A couple CGI-rendered animals rip you out of the otherwise engrossing film, and Iñárritu gets a little carried away with dream sequences and exposition shots that don't add a lot to the film other than runtime. A few of the Native American scenes feel thrown in--a repeated search for a missing chief’s daughter is clunky, and the scenes shown from their perspective seem to exist solely to have some diversity without any real weight given to the characters themselves--and overall the movie could have benefited from being 20 minutes shorter.

The Revenant is one of the most ambitious movies you'll see all year, and one that is simultaneously raw yet polished in all the right ways. The movie isn’t for everyone, and it isn't perfect, but it’s still one of the best movies of the year.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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