*** and 1/2 out of ****
The director of The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu , has stated, “I don’t consider [my] film a Western. Western is in a way a genre, and the problem with genres is that it comes from the word ‘generic’, and I feel that this film is very far from generic.” ...So anyway, the director's ego and his misinterpretation of word meanings aside, The Revenant is a western and it's an exceptional one at that. This is the first movie from Iñárritu that I actually like. Amores Perros is okay but overrated in my opinion, however I have no love for the likes of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Biutiful or 21 Grams. I consider them wildly pretentious and boring. The Revenant is a conventional revenge drama loosely based on true events, but it is really well done.
On a fur trading expedition in the 1820s, frontier guide Huge Glass(Leonardo DiCaprio) is severely injured when he is mauled by a bear (in a brutal scene that makes great use of CGI). When it is impossible to move Glass over a snow covered mountain, one member of the expedition, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), says he will stay behind, but his true intention is to leave Glass for dead. On top of that, Fitzgerald murders Glass' half breed son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), in front of the incapacitated man. So, it's up to Glass to first survive the elements and then exact revenge.
Sure, The Revenant comments on the vicious nature of man, and the main character is haunted by dreams, but none of this feels overindulgent. The movie is graphic and harrowing with intense performances (DiCaprio will finally win an Oscar) and even with a running time of 156-minutes this moves like wild fire. It's an instant classic, in the Western or any genre.