HOLLYWOOD—I’ve attempted to wrap my head around for YEARS just when actor Leonardo DiCaprio would finally get that shot at Oscar. I mean this guy has delivered riveting performance after performance in such flicks like “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “Titanic,” “The Departed,” “Blood Diamond,” “Revolutionary Road” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” to say the least.
His latest expeditionary flick “The Revenant” directed by last year’s Best Director winner Alejandro G. Inarritu, might finally nab Leo that long coveted award. The drama is inspired by true events involving American fur trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass. This isn’t a movie that immediately pops out and grabs your attention; however, this is a film that is worth every moment once the spectator has been sutured into the drama.
DiCaprio stars as Glass, who in the early 1800s is on an expedition in Montana and finds himself being viciously mauled by a bear. This scene alone is brutal, agonizing and sheer terror to watch. It looks so real, so visceral it’s unnerving to see it unfold in front of your eyes. Leo’s work in that scene alone warrants an Oscar if you ask me.
This ultimately kicks off the narrative because Glass is left for dead by his hunting team. This leads to Glass on a quest for vengeance to go after those who abandoned him in his time of need, but those responsible for murdering his son.
“The Revenant” is a movie that opens to a slow pace; the narrative does not grab your attention right away. To be honest it takes about 30 minutes before really peaking the spectator’s curiosity. However, Inarritu makes up by immersing the viewer in an atmosphere of the frontier life.
The ruggedness, the hyper-elevated notion of masculinity from a group of brutes who talk dirty and are always ready to kill at the strike of a sound are present. This movie is bloody; it’s in your face and takes no prisoners with immersing the audience in a film in a way that I haven’t seen since Inarritu’s 2006 “Babel.” There are religious overtones throughout the narrative to highlight Glass’ quest to reunite with his son, but to also ask for forgiveness for not protecting him.
DiCaprio delivers in the acting arena, but so does his co-star Tom Hardy as his nemesis Fitzgerald. Hardy’s villainous role is so deliciously evil it’s bad. While he might be on the bubble for some in the Supporting Actor race, once the flick is seen by more individuals, I’m certain he is a lock for a nomination.
So when you pit nobility against villainy it’s a narrative that is indeed fun to watch unfold on the big screen; especially in Glass’ case because the guy has been through brutal hell. He’s the underdog, and as sickening as it sounds, the viewer can’t help but root for Glass to seek vengeance against those who left him for deed in a time of need.
I loved watching the dynamic play out between Glass and Fitzgerald, two men who are determined to teach youngsters what it takes to be a man, but with different teaching methods. Glass a bit more disciplined, direct and encouraging. Fitzgerald on the other-hand is a bit more in your face, tells it like it is and will resort to some questionable tactics to prove his point.
Seeing Will Poulter deliver a range of acting abilities just further proves this youngster is indeed one to watch in the future. While he got his start in comedy, his foray into drama proves the kid has the acting chops to go toe-to-toe with the big dogs. One of the most captivating aspects of DiCaprio’s performance is it’s not dialogue heavy. Yes, he talks, but it’s more about his calm demeanor, his presence and emotive reactions that delivers such a powerful performance.
While I won’t rank the “The Revenant” as the best film I’ve seen all year, I will credit Alejandro Inarritu for depicting a movie that might not be so thrilling for most people to watch on first glance. It doesn’t hurt to have a caliber of actors like DiCaprio and Hardy leading the expedition as well. I’ve said for years DiCaprio is that one actor who has yet to win an Oscar, come 2016 that might all change.