Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Writers: Mark L. Smith, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Michael Punke
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
A frontiersman on a fur expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
The trouble with these kind of films (127 Hours is another one) is that you already know the basic plot of the film even before watching them and that is always become a challenge for the filmmaker to keep people interested in other ways. One of the ways is to set them in breathtaking locales and the knowledge that they actually went to such locations and shot the film under very difficult conditions will give the makers some leeway. I will acknowledge that it is indeed breathtaking and a very ambitious project but as a film it didn't work very well for me. It more or less felt like an extended episode of 'Man Vs Wild', albeit directed by a master filmmaker and filmed by the excellent Emmanuel Lubezki, who won his third consecutive Oscar for this film. The backstory of Leo, regarding his native American wife and the mystique way it if filmed, came off as very pretentious. It is meant to make us really feel for the character and his son but I don't think they succeeded on that regard. I would have preferred a simple raw version without any backstory, which would have also helped in cutting down its running time of close to 150 minutes, around twenty minutes too long. I found myself looking at my watch after just 45 minutes or so.
As far as I am concerned, there is not a whole lot wrong with Tom Hardy's actions. It was the logical thing to do. And I do think the makers have also given a tinge of ambiguity to most of the characters but it is not deep enough. The captain of the expedition actually arranges a separate team to take care of an injured Leo, with rewards on offer, after he found himself to not have the gumption to shoot Leo to end his and their ordeal. You also get the token references to the plight of native Indians and the whole politics of Colonialism but they just sound a bit lame and half-arsed. So what I am saying is that the while the central part of film, which is about survival, is done very well, the other aspects that were required to make it a great film didn't work for me.
Overall, it is a good watch and needs to be seen on a big screen. The theater where I watched it also got in on the act by putting the AC a tad too cold to suit the movie experience. As far as Oscars are concerned, Mad Max: Fury Road deserved to win both Best Director and Best cinematography award ahead of 'The Revenant'. Both Leo and Tom Hardy were fantastic and it is a deserved win for Leo, albeit in an award-bait role. I do think this one would rank as Inarritu's worst along with Babel, but that just indicates the greatness of the rest of his filmography.