The sign of a good movie is a combination of the following: a strong box office showing, critical acclaim, and the star power of the cast. Usually, you can pick one and do okay, but you need at least two to make your movie objectively (or subjectively) good. The sign of a great movie is when a director harnesses all three. The Revenant has one of the best living directors at the helm, so it is nothing short of a miracle that it did not become a great movie.
Tom Hardy does a fantastic job adding complexity to an otherwise straight-forward “villain” role. The cinematography alone is worthy of several viewings. And the music, pace, and adapted screenplay that walks the fine line between historical fiction and magic realism make the film worthy of study. But what is being labelled as its greatest strength, as per usual, is actually its biggest weakness: It star. Leonardo DiCaprio routinely under-performs on the screen and has made an entire career out of over-acting, essentially replacing subtle facial expressions with sobbing, blubbering, and crying and nuanced character moments with screaming, yelling, and grunting. Simply put, he is uncomfortable to watch, and not in a good way.
But as previously stated, a good movie only requires two of the three to succeed. It’s going to make a lot of movie because, well, duh. There’s a giant bear fight (which is awesome and terrifying and everything that everyone wants in a bear fight). And Tom Hardy alone (who is shockingly underrated in almost every role he has ever had) is enough to see the film. It’s just too bad that its lead actor is outshined by the bad guy. The brutality, scope, and beauty of the film is still more than enough to make this a watchable, even enjoyable film, but yet another entry into his resume has made it abundantly clear: Leo needs to go. Director Alejandro Inarritu, on the other hand? Babel, 21 Grams, Amores Perros, Birdman, and now The Revenant have more than proven his range and power as a filmmaker, even if he made a mistake casting his lead actor this go-around.
My Rating: 3.5/5