Last night, my wife and I saw Leonardo Di Caprio’s latest film: The Revenant.
First off, great film. Fast-paced, gritty tale of revenge.
Often a great story does not depend so much on the protagonist as much as it does on a fully fleshed out antagonist. The character of Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy is an incredibly written antagonist – from the early scenes establishing his mad desire for money to his rationalizations of his actions in the climactic scene.
Maybe it’s my grimdark leaning coming out but I enjoyed the telling of his story more than that of Glass, the hero played by Di Caprio.
While I would highly recommend the movie, two scenes pulled me out of the magic of the story.
So be warned, spoilers ahead.
The first scene that did not work for me is the much talked about gutting and climbing into the horse in order to survive a cold winter night. Despite the graphic depiction of the blood and guts that Glass pulls from the corpse, the scene lost its power because of an earlier scene. Glass climbing naked out the corpse was supposed to be a symbolic rebirth and that scene by itself might have had that resonance.
However, an earlier scene had Glass cocooned inside of a sweat lodge and breaking out into the world again. This was the rebirth scene. Two rebirth scenes within fifteen minutes of each other left me confused. One would have been enough and been more powerful.
The second scene that fell apart for me was the final fight scene between Glass and Fitzgerald. Nothing was wrong with the scene dramatically but the choreography of the fight scene had me wanting to shout at the screen.
First, Glass had poor distance management. He’s got an axe in his hand and he’s got the advantage of distance. So what’s he do? Nothing. He just stands there as Fitzgerald closes the distance with his knife. Come on, Glass, at least swing a few times and keep your feet moving. Use the advantage of the longer weapon in the right range.
Instead he stands there and gets tackled.
Second, they are grappling on the ground, and several times Glass controls the knife with both hands and just wrestles with the knife arm. As I have learned from stick grappling with my Dog Brothers instructor, when you have the highest priority threat (the knife) contained, access another weapon (in this case your fist).
So control the weapon with one hand and punch him with the other.
I am probably just nitpicking on the fight scenes, and likely the decisions were made for dramatic effect, but as someone who has been increasingly working with weapons, I would love to see more realistic depictions of people fighting with weapons like they actually know how to use them.
My few criticisms aside, go see The Revenant.