The Revenant cleaned up at the Golden Globes – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Film Not in Matt Damon’s category. [Okay, I made that last category up… sort of.] But the truth is that while director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film (he’s the artistic mind behind Birdman) dances gracefully, bloodily, across the fallen snow, the storyline lacks for aspects of the plot that could’ve made it grand.
John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the scene-chewing villain of this particular story, kills Hugh Glass’ (Leonard DiCaprio) half-Indian son and leaves Glass for dead in the 1820s. Furious, a ‘resurrected’ Glass goes hunting for Fitzgerald, fit and tied for revenge. Over ice and snow, Glass is undeterred by hypothermia (highly unlikely) or the bear mauling (which may be the best part of the film). But for two and a half hours, Glass pursues Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald runs, and we’re set up for an obvious confrontation. Along the way, we see some other subplots that play out as you’d expect, and nothing much unexpected happens.
That said, beyond the bear attack, one vignette in the film stuck out. It’s the portion of the film where Glass is cared for at his weakest by another fellow traveler, a Native American. The man provides for Glass and his needs, protecting him and even “housing” him. It struck me almost immediately that it was The Parable of the Good Samaritan played out in the middle of this Pacific Northwest thriller. It’s one man’s recognition that another man’s life–even a stranger’s–is worth saving because life is sacred.
Yes, The Revenant will gain attention for its style and its crew, but it isn’t the best film I’ve seen in the last year. It’s fun, exciting, and at times, terrifying, but the best of the film is found in about ten minutes of the middle third, when we see humanity at its best.