The Revenant full movie review - Violent, brutal, very little substance
This review is not to take away from any who enjoyed the movie, there are many on both sides of the fence certainly. I merely represent the lowest end of the curve.
I truly feel that a monumental emphasis on acting, scenery, and filming cannot come anywhere near salvaging a hollow shell of a movie that truly contains so little plot, character development, or soul.
I recommend this movie for those who are solely interested in the visual sense, and who can accept a constant barrage of negative emotion that shall remain unfulfilled and rather unjustified.
Detailed Review, with some spoilers:
Coming out at a time with more clever promotion and mystique than any movie not named Star Wars, this movie was destined to be a big draw. It stars 2 of the best actors in Hollywood, and is directed by a man who cannot seem to lose at the biggest of award ceremonies. Not to mention constant emphasis on the unique and agonizingly difficult way in which the movie was filmed. Labelled as a thrilling story of survival, who would give this a miss?
The movie starts off with a bang for some, but in truth it is merely a graphic bloodbath that provides little context. There are random arrows flying through the skulls of countless individuals, random butchering of a horse here and there, and very little dialogue. The only reason you know that Leo and Tom are the leads, is because they are not doing something silly like running out into the clearing alone (only to be horribly slaughtered), or staying back and killing their own horses rather than trying to escape this death trap! It is horribly unrealistic, like a bad horror movie minus any form of comedic undertone.
You gain some context after the first scene, where the situation is explained, and literally one character is developed: Tom Hardy. He is the only prominent talking character. A very selfish man who is willing to commit the most despicable deeds for money or survival. One of these deeds leads to the "story of revenge". At this point, the other main character (Leo) has said or done very little. We simply know he has a young, clearly half-native son at his side. A good vendetta will develop characters with a fundamental difference, both wielding charisma on opposite sides of the spectrum. This particular vendetta is slapped together in a very rushed manner, as the revenge plot seems secondary to the amount of time spent on survival. This movie merely uses a heinous action to create the necessary vendetta, and overly heinous it is. I found my tastes starting to sour at this point simply because the substance around the incident was very weak and the movie: otherwise pessimistic and brutal. There had been little to no character development, the charisma level was atypically low for Tom Hardy, and Leo may as well have not even been there (prior to the start of his desperate survival tactics). The acting was just fine, simply put the roles provided no vessel for charisma to this point.
Ironically, this story of revenge is the only thing that makes Leo any form of real life character other than a mumbling, groaning, foaming vegetable trying to keep himself alive. After the famous bear attack, which simply occurs like everything else, (randomly), it is one unrealistic survival after another. This includes a whole lot of facial/verbal agony, for which he will likely win all of the awards. The so called "story of revenge" remained as unfulfilling as any part of the movie. Along the way, there is a whole lot more violence, and the odd little story line which typically ends in butchery. The overlying theme: one brutal incident after another without end, and a whole lot of moaning. You could literally walk away for half of the movie, come back having missed almost nothing, and be introduced to everything this movie has to offer right away.
The development of any relatable emotion occurs either through horror, or pity. It did not keep me on the edge of my seat, merely wondering how much more of this I am able to watch. Any attempt at a moral or message was very poorly embedded.
The filming and scenery are clearly the bright spots, but this to me is simply like putting grains of sand in a tiffany's box. They have the most expensive packaging, a pretty bow, and the best salespeople, but no product. The unnecessary effort in shooting, and the ordeal the actors went through is baffling to me, but clearly not to the critics. I believe Innaritu could re-master the film "Waterworld" and win 12 awards if he so chose.
As a follow up to "Birdman" I cannot help but find irony. If nothing, Birdman criticized big budget violent movies that inevitably become very successful. Critics pan them, Actors become typecast, the public eats up mindless violence and thrills. Not only was this one of the most violent/brutal movies ever made, I would argue that there is FAR less brainwave activity or cause within this movie, than one of the dozen Avenger series movies. This movie has already attained critical acclaim, the main actors are in no danger of becoming typecast, and a large portion of the public likes this movie. You tell me: Is Inarritu an oblivious, fraudulent, King Midas where everything he touches turns to gold...or is he one of the smartest men in Hollywood who knew how to turn the table in an ironic fashion within this film?