'The Revenant' Is All Blood, No Meat

Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper
The Revenant (20th Century Fox)

The Revenant is a film featuring Leonardo DiCaprio at his rawest, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu at his most visual, and Tom Hardy at his grizzliest. Put them all together and they spell entertainment of some kind. Whether it will spell entertainment for the masses is another story. It takes a special audience member to sit through almost three hours of endless blood and gore and little else. If you are looking for a compelling story look elsewhere; if you are looking for a bloody adventure then walk right in.

The film tells the story of Hugh Glass, a guide/trapper of some expertise. The movie opens with him guiding a group of men under the command of Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson). They have amassed a solid number of expensive pelts when they are attacked by a band of Indians. Many of the group are killed but the survivors find their way to their boat and take to the river to escape. These include Glass and his half Pawnee son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck). Keeping his son safe is always a top priority for Glass.

Later more troubles befall this group when Glass is attacked and seriously wounded by a massive bear. The group is trying to get back to their fort and winter has clearly befallen them. A decision is made to leave Glass behind with his son. Two men of the party agree to stay with him until his death (or possible recovery?). Things go awry and Glass is left on his own with only thoughts of revenge to motivate him.

The Revenant is based on a true story so most of the heroics have to be believed, but Inarritu can't control the excesses piled into the script, and allows Glass to become a superman of sorts. About halfway through his journey back to civilization the movie gets so absurd that it loses any form of credibility. Maybe it is when one character goes over the edge of a very high cliff and survives because of the gathered snow. Yeah, sure! Then there is that ambiguous ending. Why not just follow the facts, sir.

The acting is good but not great. Tom Hardy plays a man who is the epitome of the average bonehead, full of venom and anger at his lot in life. Gleeson plays the Captain as a man in over his head and ready to right any wrongs he might have encouraged. DiCaprio himself makes Glass a man who communicates through grunts, groans, growls and grrrs. He is very good at doing this, but it doesn't help you get inside Glass' head and understand the man. And as for acting awards for Leo -- I don't think so.

Some will compare this film to The H8teful Eight because they are both full of bloody excesses. But at least Eight has a comprehensive plot. It is difficult to accept that the man who gave us the complex and stunning Birdman followed it up with this one note exercise in gore.

The film is rated R for profanity, violence and brief nudity.

The Revenant excels in cinematography but that alone can not satisfy an audience. You need a story with some meat on its bones. This story is stripped down to its bare essentials and that is just not enough.

I scored The Revenant a blood shedding 5 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper
www.jackiekcooper.com