ÜMABOMBED: The Revenant aka Die Hard Origins
Critics are raving about the The Revenant—a remake of DIE HARD set in uncharted wilderness in 1823. Leonardo DiCaprio stars, playing a very hairy and rugged frontiersman named J̶o̶h̶n̶ ̶M̶c̶C̶l̶a̶n̶e̶ Hugh Glass. Glass and his half-native son are working with a crew of hunters and trappers based in Fort Kiowa, when Glass is brutally attacked by a bear after stumbling upon her cubs.
When the hunting party finds him mauled half to death, they agree to carry him home on a stretcher for a hefty cash bonus. One of the crew, John Fitzgerald, kills Glass’ half Native American son, drags Glass into a shallow grave and partially buries him, leaving him for dead. Although Glass has multiple wounds from the bear—wounds that go to the bone, all the way through skin and muscle—and although his ankle is either broken or dislocated, and in spite of the face that the bear slashed and/or bit a hole in his throat, effectively giving him a tracheotomy by canine, Glass manages to crawl, then hobble back to the fort to confront Fitzgerald and enact his revenge.
Along the way, Glass beats death-defying odds repeatedly—very much like Die Hard, minus the explosions. Glass plunges into freezing rivers, where he is tossed around in Class IV rapids like a rag doll. Miraculously, he manages to not get his brains dashed out on a rock or down. He also miraculously doesn’t freeze when he climbs out of the icy river, and a small fire somehow miraculously dries his numerous fur pelts overnight. Glass fuses his the gaping hole in his neck by pouring gunpowder into the wound and applying fire to ignite it. Despite being very hungry and beat to crap, Glass liberates a native woman being raped by a French trapper, and steals a horse, only to be chased by the woman’s tribe. He charges the galloping horse off a cliff and plunges 300 feet to his…PSYCH! HE’S ALIIIIVE, MIRACULOUSLY!
The horse, of course, is dead as a pile of bricks.
At this point DIE HARD 1823 morphs and becomes STAR WARS, THE EARTH YEARS. Glass guts the dead horse, pulls out the entrails, strips naked and climbs into the warm carcass to weather a fierce storm setting in. The next day he climbs out of the fleshy tent to a bluebird day, and resumes his trip back to the fort.
Fitzgerald freaks out when he learns Glass is alive and is arrived at the fort. Fitz robs the fort, steals a horse and heads for the hills. Captain Andrew Henry plans a pursuit to bring Fitzgerald to justice, insisting Glass stay behind and rest from his injuries. Miraculously, Glass appears to be healing in record time, despite the fact that bandaids and ibuprofen haven’t even been invented yet. The two pursue Fitzgerald, until Glass says “I’ll head East and you head West and then we’ll get him real good.”Or something like that. The captain runs into natives who kill and scalp him. Glass continues, undaunted, and stages a very clever ambush. He and Fitz have one final fisticuffs and savagely beat, bite, and repeatedly stab and even slice whole pieces off each other. Glass wins, and shoves the dying villain into the river, before seeing a vision of his wife in the trees. The film ends ambiguously suggesting Glass goes to trapper heaven to join his wife.
This ridiculously graphically violent film is 32% longer than it needs to be. Leo is great in it—a force on the screen—but I couldn’t help but think that Tom Hardy steals the show. After the 3rd or fourth near-death experience/assault/trauma, I found myself laughing out loud in the theater. Had the filmmakers left out even just two of the near-deaths for Leo, there would still have been at least 3 or 4 gruesome and comically implausible survival scenes.
Yes, the movie was very well produced, without CG, which is quite a feat. And honestly both main characters were very well portrayed by DiCaprio and Hardy.
Rumors were floating around a few years ago about another Die Hard installment; Die Hard VI would be an origins story. The only real explosion in The Revenant was the scene where DiCaprio blasts his own throat with gunpowder, but other than that, it follows the absurdist action film formula.
I haven’t even mentioned how the film barely resembles the book—the only thing the book and film have in common is the bear attack. Taken on its own, the film is silly, overly macho, an all-you-can-eat buffet clichés. It is visually mesmerizing but emotionally devoid and although the scenes themselves were well-directed, in the end film suffers from another director’s inability to leave anything on the proverbial cutting room floor. The result: a film that starts out strong and sensational, but ends up feeling rather dull and vapid by the end.
But hey, it’s Leo’s sevent Oscar nomination. All I can say is “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker. Yippee-ki-yay.”