DRAMA; 2hr 36min
STARRING: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
Getting back: DiCaprio
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's fearsome epic starts out as it soldiers on: bloody, icy and absolute. That's what you signed up for while trapping fur in America's unexplored West in the 1820s, as real-life woodsman Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) and his gnarly team members gutsily did. When the sole rule is survival at any cost in the face of marauding Indians and predatory beasts, emotions run high. Glass has a half-Indian son (Forrest Goodluck) and knows the lie of the internal and external land. Others are not as evolved: after Glass is horrifically mauled by a bear (in an encounter of almost unbearable realism), he's abandoned by the men assigned to protect him (Hardy and Poulter). Astonishingly, he survives to trek hundreds of miles, spurred by a thirst for revenge.
A revenant is a person presumed dead who returns from whatever hell to which he or she has presumably been consigned. With the trapper making his agonising way back, director Inarritu (Birdman) and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki hone in on the elemental grandeur of the wilderness in a treatment equal parts sweeping and deep-seated. Pared to fundamentals, Glass has become part man, part primitive creature, and DiCaprio's portrayal of endurance in extremis hits home with a force pushed to its limits.