The Revenant is punishing. If frozen-snot shards aren't blowing into a character's eyes, arrows are sailing through his tender hide. Directed by Birdman Oscar-winner Alejandro Iñárritu, the film -- out Dec. 25th -- drags Leonardo DiCaprio through a backwoods gauntlet of mud, snow, and his own frothing blood until it scrapes off every last bit of his A-lister veneer.
The gorgeous and gory visuals are enough to make it more than your average revenge story, but Iñárritu is also on the hunt for profundity. He never discovers it. The Revenant slobbers and snarls without speaking to experience. The visceral pleasure of DiCaprio competing in American Frontier Ninja Warrior is all we get -- and it's almost enough.
Set in the late-19th century, the plot ignites when a Pawnee rescue party, in search of their chief’s missing daughter, attacks a band of American fur trappers. Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), the group’s guide, and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a brute looking to make a few bucks, are among the survivors who flee into the mountainous unknown. The escape goes smoothly until a run-in with an overprotective mama bear tenderizes Glass into ground beef. He survives the encounter, though Fitzgerald knows dead weight when he sees it. A few white lies (and vicious murders) later, Fitzgerald is on the move and Glass is up to his ears in soil, left for dead in uncharted wilderness. Only the thought of slicing the turncoat's neck keeps him from kicking the bucket.