‘The Revenant’ Movie Review: A Bloody, Riveting Western

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio as explorer Hugh Glass in ‘The Revenant’ (Photo © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

The Revenant is brutal, harsh, and unflinching in its depiction of America in the 1800s, but it doesn’t include a scene of a bear raping Leonardo DiCaprio. The internet was in an uproar after someone wrote a click-bait article claiming DiCaprio was raped not once but twice by a bear in the film and that you could actually see it happening on screen. That’s utter nonsense and whoever first spread the lie should be banned from advance film screenings for life. Fortunately, that person’s claim was shot down quickly by people who weren’t looking to up their website’s page views and who took to Twitter to clear up the matter. DiCaprio’s character, Hugh Glass, is ruthlessly and relentlessly attacked by a mother bear protecting her cubs, but how anyone mistook the attack as sexual is completely beyond me. However, the bear attack is likely to have audiences flinching in shared pain as it – and the rest of The Revenant – does not hold back in its portrayal of violence in the Wild West.

1. a person who returns.
2. a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.

Directed by Birdman’s Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s, The Revenant is based on the remarkable true story of one man’s survival against incredible odds and through multiple near-death experiences. Set in the early 1800s, the film kicks off with a fierce fight between Indians and a hunting party that includes explorer Hugh Glass, his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), leader Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), over-his-head and out-of-his-league Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), and Glass’ nemesis, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Attacked by the Pawnee while collecting furs, the group is forced to flee down a river, ultimately setting ashore at a remote location far from their destination. It’s there that the aforementioned bear attack occurs and Hugh is so grievously injured that the group is forced to leave him behind in the care of Fitzgerald and Bridger who will be compensated for volunteering to watch over Glass until he either dies or is strong enough to travel to their fort.

Glass’ encounter with the bear is only the beginning of a journey for the death-defying traveler who will survive multiple attacks including one which sends him off the edge of a cliff, into a pine tree, and seeking shelter from the freezing temperatures by cutting open his dead horse, removing its entrails, and nestling inside its skin. (Think Luke Skywalker crawling into the belly of his dead Tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back).

The Bottom Line:

Everything in The Revenant is gorgeously shot, with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s mesmerizing work thrusting the audience into the snowy, inhospitable wilderness alongside Glass. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu chose an interesting subject for his Birdman follow up, and once again delivers a solid film with a compelling human story brought to life by an outstanding ensemble.

Will Poulter (remember him rapping in We’re the Millers?) plays the wide-eyed Jim Bridger with the right mix of innocence and gullibility. Domhnall Gleeson had an outstanding year with terrific performances in Ex Machina, Brooklyn, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and in The Revenant he displays yet another side as the leader who makes the most difficult of decisions and then must live with the consequences of his actions. Tom Hardy, although once again occasionally difficult to understand, does despicable well and is unflinching in his portrayal of the loathsome John Fitzgerald. But this is truly Leonardo DiCaprio’s film and it’s obvious how committed he was in making this as gritty and realistic as possible. DiCaprio’s performance is what drives The Revenant and makes this R-rated violent Western not only one of the year’s best films but also one of the best Westerns in decades.


Rating: R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity

Running Time: 156 minutes