Something as ephemeral as a breath shouldn’t mark the point when a movie this relentlessly physical lost me, but Alejandro G. Iñárritu pulls it off in his loosely-fact-based story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a guide for an early 19th-century fur-trapping operation who finds himself alone in the winter wilderness and mortally injured, with only a need for vengeance driving him onward. Iñárritu has plenty of skills at crafting fascinating visuals—ideal for moments like the hard-to-watch bear attack that cripples Glass—and DiCaprio’s largely wordless performance transcends the ubiquitous media focus on the physical hardships he endured. The trouble comes when the two-and-a-half-hour march through Glass’s ordeal starts to become simply exhausting—and when seeing a character’s breath condensed on the camera lens indicates what Iñárritu misunderstands about a story like The Revenant. As infatuated as he seems to be with making sure audiences appreciate the gritty realism, he also wants to make sure they know they’re watching a movie—and he can’t have it both ways. For all of his gifts as a filmmaker, he sure hopes you don’t forget that he’s there behind the camera.
Director: Alejandro Iñárritu
Producer: Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro Iñárritu, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon, James W. Skotchdopole, Brett Ratner, James Packer, Jennifer Davisson, David Kanter, Markus Barmettler, Philip Lee and Jake Myers
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Joshua Burge, Duane Howard, Melaw Nakehk'o, Fabrice Adde, Arthur Redcloud, Christopher Rosamund, Robert Moloney, Lukas Haas, Brendan Fletcher, Tyson Wood, McCaleb Burnett and Grace Dove