March 3, 2016
The narrative simplicity of Dora the Explorer meets the survivalist shtick of Bear Grylls in director Alejandro G. Iñárritu gorgeous, gory and- seemingly, never-ending scavenger hunt.
Beautiful to look at, with a great score, nothing contained within this revengers tragedy warrants it’s excessive running time, which follows Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass track across perilous, icy terrain to avenge- amongst other things, being left for dead by his fellow hunters.
Suffering the never ending emotional cruelty of a Lars Von Trier creation while grunting like a woman’s tennis match, DiCaprio doesn’t so much act, as endure. Glass is driven by a ‘Not Without My Daughter’ zeal that is bolstered by DiCaprio’s own ‘Not Without My Oscar’ stank.
Like a Marvel Superhero he is shot at by Arikara Native Americans, mauled by a bear, buried alive and flung off a cliff while riding a horse bareback, picking himself up and moving on as unconvincingly as he did after battling snowstorms, roaring rapids and yet more Native Americans, who are on a bloodthirsty hunt of their own for an abducted child.
Iñárritu is as taken with exploiting the scenery as he is with exploring excessive violence, so that the thrill of watching all this is sapped by the numbness in ones ass, brain and a desperate need to piss that takes hold as the movie stops repeatedly to take in the breathtaking terrain.
Tom Hardy is memorable and layered as John Fitzgerald, who urges the team ditch Glass, then stays behind to help him. Domhnall Gleeson is neither as Andrew Henry, leader of the hunting expedition. While Will Poulter, hopefully soon to be seen as Pennywise the Clown in the big screen adaptation of Stephen Kings IT, gives a terrific performance in what could easily have been a forgettable part.
But Iñárritu is more interested in set pieces than people, so that we never really appreciate why anyone of these characters struggle so desperately to survive- or do anything, at all.
For all the spectacle, if you require more from your movies than the visual, this is a movie that lacks character- or characters, as cold as the snow it so obsessively scans and as single minded as that much ballyhooed bear.