First Hit: Strong in many ways because of DiCaprio's performance and in the beautifully interesting way it was shot, however, it also felt a little too long.
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is an expert in creating wonderful visual pictures and scenes to watch.
Many of them are awe inspiring. Here, some of the long sequences enhanced the film and, in some ways, hurt the film. There were times that I just didn’t think I needed to sit through another sequence of seeing the rugged cold terrain.
After a couple of these I found myself thinking about something else instead of being totally involved in the film. However, on the converse side watching Leonardo DiCaprio being Hugh Glass was a treasure. It is very possible that his performance wins the Oscar and the film does not. This is because I really felt there were better films (see other recently posted reviews).
This story is about a man being betrayed by his fellow man in three ways: First, his son’s mother was killed by a group of Indian village raiders. Second, his son (Hawk – played Forrest Goodluck) was killed in front of him by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). And finally, Fitzgerald dumped him into a shallow grave, threw some dirt on him and left him to die in the middle of nowhere.
As you might imagine, Glass is pissed and filled with revenge. The bear mauling scene is amazing in that it isn’t just a short quick event, it is elongated just as one might expect as it would have happened.
This is what Inarritu is great at filming; long scenes shot eloquently that feel real. Just like the bear scene, the scene of the Indians attacking the fur trappers just felt real. The way the arrows just come into the picture frame hitting or missing their target is absolutely amazing.
Like Spielberg did with the scenes of the Normandy Beach landing in "Saving Private Ryan", these scenes are punctuated with a realistic sounds giving the audience a feeling as if you are there.
The other thing Inarritu is unafraid to do is to be creative in the story: The scene where Glass uses a horse carcass to warm and protect himself from the cold – ingeniously thought of and executed.
The palpable feeling of being in a subzero and cold environment came across clearly through the panoramic shots and close ups of the characters.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was that the film seemed long and I’d be hard pressed to say what could have been cut, except some long landscape shots .
Leonardo DiCaprio was amazing in this role and I also have to give kudos to the makeup artist because I believed every wound on his body seemed real. Tom Hardy was appropriately self-serving, mean and thoughtless as his role needed him to be. He was really strong. However I struggled to place or understand the accept he used. Goodluck was really good as the half white and Indian boy who loved his father. Domhnall Gleeson as Captain Andrew Henry, the leader of the tappers group, was effective and strong as the responsible person. Mark L. Smith and Inarritu wrote a very strong compelling script. Inarritu was masterful in his direction and used the camera effectively to portray this amazing story.
Overall: This film was an amazingly visual adventure of a man's quest for revenge.