A HEADY reminder that man is as beastly as any wild animal when push comes to shove, The Revenant is the kind of brutal, no holds barred survivalist story that grabs you by the throat and refuses to loosen its grip.
From the blood-drenched opening sequence that brings back horrific memories of Saving Private Ryan, to a prolonged and graphic bear attack on our hero, this film is relentless and intends to takes its audience through every gory step of surviving in the wild.
But despite the Saw series level of bloodshed, gaping wounds and lost limbs, The Revenant is also conscious of showing there can be just as equal a measure of humanity in us.
After entering unchartered wilderness in the 1820s, a hunting team, including explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and criminal John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), is attacked by a Native American tribe.
Later, when a bear mauls Hugh, he is left for dead by his teammates.
He miraculously recovers, driven by rage and revenge with his flesh torn to shreds, and seeks those who left him behind.
But the bear attack is almost nothing compared to the climate and other wildlife he must first endure.
Stomach-churningly savage, thrillingly intense and powerfully accurate about the beast that lies within any human, this also highlights the hypocrisy in racism; Caucasians referring to Native Americans as savages when they themselves are just as capable of violence.
Balancing the carnage, it also demonstrates the humanity we are capable of, with unconditional favours exchanged between races.
Hugh’s journey becomes our journey; cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s lens is splattered with blood, splashed with water and in one scene even fogged up by DiCaprio’s warm breath in the icy climate, his camera dangerously close to the violence and never shying away.
DiCaprio deservedly stirs more Oscar rumours with his commanding performance in an almost dialogue-less role, being forced to rely on his physicality and allowing himself to be dragged through the wringer.
While many may cross future camping trips off their to do list, this visceral experience should prompt thought and discussion about how we treat each other.
The Revenant (MA)
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson
Four and a half stars
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinemas now