The Revenant | Leo’s Gold

Leonardo DiCaprio, my all time favourite actor for 25yrs now, loved him in GROWING PAINS, CRITTERS 3, THIS BOY’S LIFE and then he became my acting legend in 1993 with his performance in WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE, the first film he should have actually won an Oscar for. If I was the Academy I would have also given him Oscars for THE BASKETBALL DIARIES, ROMEO + JULIET, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and TITANIC, so is it now, 2016, 36 roles later, 27yrs of acting that he will garner his nod from commercial Hollywood film elite for THE REVENANT? Find out for yourself, THE REVENANT is out now, it runs for 156mins and is rated MA15+.

 

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The Revenant | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Mondo Poster Art Image

 

BY JASON KING

I believe he will win his statue, if not for the miraculous performance but for the sheer determination and hard work ethics of his fibre. He may not seem like a natural actor to all but he is definitely one of the hardest working actors in history, an actor so driven to prove himself to the elite he searches out directors to collaborate with that play the odds in his favour for an Oscar and what he is willing to do for his performances to get that Oscar is never clearer than the hell he goes through in THE REVENANT, the movie is basically how fucked up can Leo actually get, I laughed at one stage, because it is one horrendous thing after another and it seems to never end, the only thing he didn’t do was actually eat shit for this role. Is THE REVENANT a metaphor for his entire career?

 

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The Revenant | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio)

 

THE REVENANT is a pure and simple beautiful dark depressing revenge film. It is actually based on the true story of Hugh Glass, with plenty of Hollywood embellishments. Set in 1823 a group of military led hunters and trappers are collecting their pelts when they are attacked by the Arikara Native Americans, less than a third of them escape with their lives and some pelts. They are on the river and know they are being tracked by the Arikara who believe the trappers have kidnapped the chieftains daughter. Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson in his fourth huge film of 2015) takes his strategy for survival from Glass (DiCaprio), an ex-military man who shot an officer and lives in the wild as a tracker and hunter with his half Native American son, Hawk.

As Glass is scouting ahead of the group he is attacked by a grizzly bear, he eventually manages to kill the bear but he is severely injured and close to death. The group does their best with rudimentary medical skills and attempts to carry Glass out of the wilderness on a makeshift stretcher, but the stretcher is slowing them down and the chances of the Arikara catching up to them increases. The idea is put forward to kill Glass and put him out of his misery and to allow them the chance to escape. This nearly happens but Captain Henry comes up with another idea, leave two men behind to look after Glass until a natural death and to give him a proper burial. Of the volunteers is Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) and a third man who would prefer Glass dead, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Bridger and Hawk are out hunting and Fitzgerald tries to kill Glass, Hawk comes back and stops him but Fitzgerald then kills Hawk and hides the body, Bridger is none the wiser and thinks Hawk is missing and Glass cannot communicate but saw his son murdered.

The next morning Fitzgerald tells Bridger the Arikara are coming and they must leave Glass immediately for their own sakes, Bridger is young and scared and he leaves Glass half buried alive in a shallow grave Fitzgerald dumped him in. They depart and an injured glass is left dying in a grave.

And so begins the most harrowing of revenge adventures in the harshest of environments.

 

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The Revenant | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy)

 

The making of story of this movie is nearly as harrowing as the actual movie itself. It was grossly over budget, they lost the snow in Canada and had to move the second half of the filming to southern Argentina, the crew went through hell for their roles and Leo went through the unimaginable calling this the hardest film he has ever been involved in. As a vegetarian he actually ate raw bison liver, was nearly destroyed by a bear (god knows how they filmed that so well), did all his own stunts, spoke two Native American languages (Pawnee and Arikara), did a lot swimming in frozen and (at times) rapid filled rivers, and basically slept inside a horses carcass, he is my freaking hero, we can still wed after he scrubs all that blood off him :). Oscar earned!

Adding to the scheduling difficulties was the oddities and determination of director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Oscar winner last year for BIRDMAN) who would only shoot the film in sequence (due to some weather issues a few scenes were shot out of order) and only in natural light, believe me it was worth the hell they went through, it is one of the best looking films of all time and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (also an Oscar winner for BIRDMAN) can also add another statue to his cabinet come Oscar this year.

 

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The Revenant | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio)

 

The acting is brilliant, Leo basically kills himself for this role, Hardy gives his career best performance and I can see them both with Oscars this year, one gripe though; for a few of Hardy’s scenes I would have liked subtitles so I could understand him, he is so in character that he is occasionally incomprehensible. His character was inspired by Tom Berenger in Platoon and as usual he was a little difficult on set but for this movie he is allowed. He had some conflict and argued with Iñárritu that a lot of his stunts were too dangerous, especially the choking scene, he only allowed it to be filmed after Iñárritu actually allowed Hardy to choke him the exact same way. This is where Hardy gets massive brownie points; this choking was filmed and Hardy had a photo of him choking Iñárritu put on t-shirts that were awarded to every crew member at the completion of filming, hahahaha. GOLD. 

Domhnall Gleeson was admirable in his role, as was Forrest Goodluck as Glass’s son. Special mention to Will Poulter, a JK fave since he was the little kid in SON OF RAMBOW, the annoying Eustace in Narnia, the balls bitten by a spider scene in WE’RE THE MILLERS and of course the poor angry son of a bitch in THE MAZE RUNNER. Of course American critics are calling him a relative unknown even though he has been around for years but his performance in this is his career best and he will be very known following this addition to his CV.

 

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The Revenant | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Jim Bridger (Will Poulter)

 

One thing you need to know about THE REVENANT, it never holds back from its sheer brutality and there were some scenes I was actually shocked seeing and I have seen a lot of gory brutality (in movies), I actually think my mum will not like the movie because of it but I can see my stepdad calling this his favourite film of all time for sheer beauty and unloving emotion of nature. Is this Leo’s best performance? For me no but it is his most commendable and as such I award him the best male performance of 2015/16 Oscars regardless of The Academy. Is this the best movie of 2015/2016? Again a no from me but it is the most harrowing, the most enduring and the most beautiful, it definitely makes my top 5 of 2015.

 

5 Pops

 

 

Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.