I’ve been a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio for 20 years. After his performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and a slew of other greats I remain salty that he still lacks an Oscar win. He’s had some good roles and he’s had some great roles. I even like some of the films that get hated on a lot (see The Beach–I dare you show me a better shark bite scene). With this highly anticipated film, I was really excited for the potential of him having another great one. Leo has a knack for performing very well when taking on the character of real people. Howard Hughes, Jordan Belfort, Frank Abagnale Jr., etc. Nobody doubts that he’s pretty darn good at it. But could this be the role to put him over the top?
Hugh Glass (played by DiCaprio) leads a team of fur trappers through the uncharted wilderness in 1823 America. A job goes horribly wrong when their group is attacked. After Glass sustains seeming mortal wounds as a result of a bear mauling, his team leaves him for dead. Miraculously he survives and must face the brutal elements to find his way back home. Motivated by vengeance, Glass moves heaven and earth to find John Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy), the one responsible for this massive betrayal.
What I liked:
With a run time passing 2.5 hours, the film did a fantastic job of keeping me engaged from beginning to end. Some scenes were jaw-dropping and shocking. I jumped in my seat a few times. This was really a fascinating time in history to explore and bring to the big screen for the masses. This film felt different than anything I’d ever seen before. The cinematography category for the Oscars…let’s just say that any other nominee is fighting for second. This movie would get all of the nominations in that category if it were up to me. There were definitely some brutal moments, but the film never overdoes it. It feels real and raw, especially the final showdown where you could cut the tension with a knife. I liked rarely being able to predict where things would go.
Leo doesn’t do a lot of speaking, but the physical acting is remarkable. He made you feel for the character and that’s a success in my book. While Leo was great and consistent as always, I have to say the real surprise for me was Tom Hardy. I’ve seen his prior roles and there is no doubt in my mind that he’s a great actor. But here is completely becomes Fitzgerald. Part of me hated him a lot, but even still I felt a sliver of sympathy.
What I didn’t like:
I wanted a better sense of time that passed. As great as the film was and as much as I was willing to suspend my belief considering the run time, I wanted a better sense of how long it took for Glass to heal in order to make what he could endure a little more believable.
Overall: I wasn’t sure if this was the type of movie the public would embrace, but so far it seems to be doing well, and deservedly so. In my ideal world, Tom Hardy and Leo would be taking home Oscars in their respective categories (leading and supporting), but we’ll have to see what the academy decides to do.