Sunday, 27 December 2015

THE REVENANT - Review By Greg Klymkiw - There isn't even a revenant in this dull western

Leo Di Caprio vs Richard Harris
Who will survive? What will be left of them?

The Revenant (2015)
Dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Scr. Iñárritu and Mark L. Smith
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson, Forrest Goodluck

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Look, if I go see a movie called The Revenant, is it too goddamn much to ask that the movie be about a revenant? I'm not referring to some artsy-fartsy notion of a revenant - a man who has returned from certain death to wreak havoc and vengeance. No! I mean a goddamn REVENANT - a mean-ass supernatural mo-fo sharing properties of vampires, zombies and/or demons. Revenants are scary sonsabitches who delightfully did weave their grotesque way in and out of European, Nordic and West Indian folklore. Now, putting one of those suckers into a western, would genuinely kick solid ass.

Unfortunately, The Revenant is a new film by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, a filmmaker who wouldn't know kick-ass if it came and bit him on the, uh, ass. We all know this. We've seen the insufferable (and insufferably titled) Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) with its twee preciousness capturing the imaginations of film critics thinking they're, uh, smart or something and "sophisticated" audiences who are little more than pseuds looking for any excuse to crap on movies that might be even mildly entertaining. I won't even bother wasting bile on Iñárritu's previous works of dour schwance-stroking, but let it be said that he's managed to miraculously crap out another turd that's going to have way too many critics and award-givers handing out the gold.

Based loosely on the adventures of real-life frontiersman Hugh Glass, Iñárritu's film charts the tale of trappers on the run from a Native tribe on the warpath. When the trappers' chief scout Glass (Leonardo Di Caprio) is mauled by a grizzly bear, he's left in the care of his son (Forrest Goodluck) and a mangy psychopath (Tom Hardy). The psycho kills both son and father, leaving them behind with one whopper of a lie to tell everyone else. Well, it turns out Dad Glass isn't dead after all. He's hurt bad and mighty pissed off.

Still, it's going to take well over an hour of screen time to watch him lurch through the wilderness to catch up to the psycho and wreak vengeance. Lurching, crawling, hobbling, groaning and gurgling await us for over one whole goddamn hour. And once we get to the vengeance part, things continue to drag on and we get little more than an unsatisfying, artsy-fartsy version of revenge. No Joe Don Baker or Chuck Bronson shenanigans await us here.

On top of everything else, the movie is stuffed to the gills with all manner of noble, mystic savage nonsense attributed to the Aboriginal characters. That's because Iñárritu is an artist, don'cha know? Or rather, an artiste. (We know he's an artiste since he lets cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki eke out a whole passel of picture postcards.)

Iñárritu's artist pedigree allows him to engage in typical outdated cultural gymnastics because he's a bit of a mystic, eh. He's got a whole lotta heady shit to say about the human condition, and good goddamn won't he be all high falutin' about it, too? Frankly, the only difference between The Revenant and The Ridiculous Six is that Iñárritu is not Adam Sandler, but because he's not, he'll NOT get crapped on, but will instead get one heapin' helpin' of those reverent accolades.

Who amongst them is the REAL man?

The story of Hugh Glass was previously made into Man in the Wilderness, a pretty enjoyable 1971 western by Richard C. Sarafian (who directed one of the greatest car chase movies of all time, Vanishing Point). It starred the always-intense Richard Harris as Glass and taking the role of the leader of the scum "whut-done" abandoned him, the film served up the manly, chortling old geezer John Huston. For our troubles in The Revenant, Iñárritu hands us the bearded, grunting monkey-boy Leo and, good gracious, the spindly Domhnall Gleeson. Thankfully, Tom Hardy acquits himself magnificently as the slurring, drooling psycho, but everyone else in The Revenant is so weighted down by the lofty seriousness of Iñárritu's "vision" that we might as well be watching it after being mauled by a big, old grizzly bear.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *½ One and a half Stars.

The Revenant is in platform, followed by wide release through 20th Century Fox