If you were hanging out for a typical Nolan film with elaborate plot twists or charismatic baddies, you may be disappointed.
Sure, members of his usual dream-team are on board (Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy are to Christopher Nolan as Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are to Tim Burton), as well as his trademark suspenseful string-based backing track used to full effect. There’s also the attention to detail and beautiful cinematography we’ve come to know and love. But the similarities end there.
British troops and their allies have been surrounded by the German army on the beach at Dunkirk, and are trying to safely evacuate across the water back to England, under the direction of Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh).
On paper the plot sounds pretty dull, so Nolan has done a great job in actually making a watchable movie out of it. But overall, i’d say it’s more interesting than entertaining. It’s the atmosphere and the sense of historic realism that are the real stars of the show. It’s certainly not your typical popcorn flick.
There isn’t a great deal of dialogue, but the acting is decent all round. I was impressed with Harry Styles’ portrayal of a soldier named Alex – he has shown that he is more than just a pop star. Tom Hardy as air force pilot Farrier reminded me of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, with his military coat, posh English accent and oxygen mask.
If there’s any reason at all to see The Revenant, it’s certainly for the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio. This role demanded everything that he had, and he delivered 100 percent. There’s a heartfelt scene where he’s hugging his son, and his emotions are so intense that he’s producing deep forehead wrinkles in a formation I’ve never even seen before.
Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) are part of a hunting team sourcing fur pelts in the woods. With native American Indians on their tail, their hard-earned hoard is threatened and their leader, Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) must decide what to do next. When unruly team member John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) starts to show his rebellious side, tensions start to run high.
Special mention to Tom Hardy whose acting was also outstanding. His accent is so perfect it’s easy to forget he’s actually a Londoner. As the sinister Fitzgerald he’s able to give creepy looks just with his eyes, reminiscent of Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler.
The violence and gore in this film is perhaps even more than Tarantino-level – and that’s saying something. It’s clear to see that no expense has been spared with getting the special effects right, especially in the surreal scene with the Grizzly bear (see trailer). Then of course the beautiful wintery landscapes are a joy to behold, director Alejandro Iñárritu yet was very particular about using only natural landscapes and light – no CGI was used for these shots.
Yes, the quality of many aspects of this film is extremely high. So why only 3.5 stars? Actually it’s the storyline. It was good, but just not compelling enough to be remarkable. The Revenant is worth more for its individual parts than the overall package.