Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
IMDB Rating: 8.3
The highly anticipated drama puts one of the most exciting directors together with some of the most esteemed actors in the world. All of them do well, so why isn’t this as good as you would have thought?
Set in 1800’s America, DiCaprio stars as experienced frontiersman Hugh Glass working as part of a crew of fur trappers deep in the forests with his son Hawk (Goodluck). While travelling home after being attacked by Indians, he is attacked to near death by a bear. Unable to carry him home while the Indians are on their trail, Captain Andrew Henry (Gleeson) orders Fitzgerald (Hardy) and Bridger (Poulter) to wait behind with him until he passes. Hawk also waits with his father, and while he and Bridger wish to wait with him, Fitzgerald is eager to get home before the Indians find them. Glass is eventually left half-buried and half-dead by Fitzgerald. Glass ends up pulling himself out of his own grave, and is determined to find and kill Fitzgerald.
This is a classic story of a man from the dead looking for revenge. An exciting start to the film puts him in the ground, and an exciting end brings the story to a close. However, this 2½ hour film is let down by a main body which constantly flirts with the line between adding detail and dragging. It’s as if awards-winning filmmakers are ashamed to make anything under two hours long. The way this film dragged in the middle, maybe it would have made more sense for Iñárritu and company to have swallowed their pride and cut the film down, because there’s no real character building or anything like that filling that time, it’s just travelling and the ordeals that look set to get DiCaprio his Oscar. The really good end to the film does save it, and I came out not really feeling like it had dragged too much (not that I didn’t feel all 156 minutes), but at the same time I don’t really remember much of it.
DiCaprio is very good in this. He delivers a true performance which does a very good job of helping you understand the pain and suffering the character’s going through. HOWEVER, is this the world ending performance that the media made it sound like, that will finally get him his Oscar? I’m less sure. Don’t get me wrong, he will obviously get the Oscar that he finally deserves, but in terms of actual acting quality I don’t see this as being better than anything we’ve already seen from the acting legend. DiCaprio’s delivered a performance befitting of the icon that he is, but this isn’t the world-defying performance that you felt he would need to finally get that little gold man.
DiCap (we’re friends, so I can call him that) isn’t the only person in this movie, and isn’t the only good performance. Tom Hardy again shows why he’s the best British actor of his generation, delivering a very convincing performance. The future of British acting looks good too, with Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson both enlarging their stocks with performances on par with their much more established counterparts.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu has made a very pretty film. He keeps his signature tracking style that shot him to fame in Birdman, but adds to that the ability to take captivating landscape shots, in which the characters become just small pieces in the larger world. This is good, and deserves some sort of recognition at the Oscars through director or cinematography awards, but does also play its part in the less than exciting middle period which is this film’s undoing.
Overall, I have to say this is not as great as the hype would suggest. Sure it looks pretty, and it certainly hasn’t done anybody any harm, but Iñárritu’s gentle style means this does lack any serious drama in the main body. Birdman’s a better film in my eyes, and while I haven’t seen it yet I can imagine I’ll enjoy Tarantino’s winter thriller The Hateful Eight more than I enjoyed this.