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Movie Review

The Revenant

MPAA Rating: R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland

Very Offensive
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Primary Audience:
Western Adventure Thriller Adaptation
2 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 25, 2015 (select—4 theaters)
January 8, 2016 (wide—3,374 theaters)
DVD: April 19, 2016
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

vengeance / revenge




Revenant: “a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead”

This movie is based on the real life cross country trek of Hugh Glass when he was mauled by a grizzly bear, left for dead, and crawled 200 miles back to civilization in 1823. He vowed vengeance on those who took his supplies and left him, spending the next several years hunting them down.


Issue of pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

Featuring: Leonardo DiCaprioHugh Glass
Tom HardyJohn Fitzgerald
Domhnall Gleeson … Andrew Henry
Will Poulter … Jim Bridger
Paul Anderson … Anderson
Lukas Haas
Brendan Fletcher … Fryman
more »
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu—“Birdman” (2014), “Babel” (2006), “Biutiful” (2010)
Producer: New Regency Pictures
Anonymous Content
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Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

The Revenant. A tale of Survival. Perseverance. Greed. Revenge.

Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is one of many in a large hunting party in search of pelts (animal furs) within the unsettled and cold, dark wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase. As one may expect, being a hunter in the wild frontier is no easy task. After an ambush from a Native American tribe, less than half of the men are able to escape with their lives. The peril worsens for Glass, though, as he later stumbles upon a grizzly bear and is nearly mauled to death.

After the group of remaining men find Glass, they assume the worst, and the captain, Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), asks for volunteers to temporarily stay behind and stay by Glass’ side until his death. Of course, extra pay is involved, and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) takes advantage of the opportunity. Two others (including Glass’ Native American son) volunteer as well, though they do not have a murder plan up their sleeves like Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald, who appears to not be very fond of Glass, begins to grow impatient and decides to take matters into his own hands by attempting to murder Glass and betray his fellow men. After lying to the other volunteers, the truth behind Fitzgerald’s evil deed leads to an uprising amongst the two men which leads him to killing Glass’ son. Fitzgerald believes that his crimes are covered up, but little does he know that he is just a step away from being avenged.

“The Revenant” is a powerful and brutal film. Yet director Alejandro G. Iñárritu does an excellent job at telling a harsh story amidst the wondrous beauty of God’s creation. Unfortunately, no credit is given to the Creator in this film (more on that later). Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy deliver fantastic performances along with the excellent character development.

Running at over 2½ hours, “The Revenant” is an uneasy film to watch. But the pacing is so well executed, one may not care about its long run time. The film contains a very tight script, an emotional and intense musical score, and beautiful (as always) cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki. “The Revenant” was shot nearly with all natural light, and the entire crew did a stellar job at making this film appear completely natural. This film is a great step up from Iñárritu’s 2014 Oscar winning film “Birdman,” especially when it comes to the emotional, solid storytelling.

“The Revenant” may be one of the best films of the year, but it is also a film filled with strong, bloody violence, obscene and profane language, and a scene of sexual assault.

The sexual content is limited to two scenes and is brief, but still very disturbing. Bloody corpses are seen naked from behind, as they are dragged across the snow covered ground. One naked man is seen from a far distance (frontal nudity) after he gets hit with an arrow and falls to the ground. Also, a Native American woman is captured, humiliated, and raped by a hunter. There is no nudity, but graphic sexual movements are seen, as we see the pain in the woman’s eyes.

The film is also realistically bloody and violent. The film opens with an intense battle scene between the hunters and the Native Americans. There is loads of bloodshed and characters are graphically shot with both bullets and arrows from head to toe, in addition to getting trampled, stabbed, impaled, and scalped.

As mentioned above, Glass gets mauled by a grizzly bear in an intense, prolonged bloody sequence. He nearly gets his throat ripped out as the bear tears away at his flesh. We see most of his bloody body throughout the film, as he is covered from head to toe in wounds. The bear gets stabbed and shot as well. Glass is later seen trying to mend his wounds by using gun powder, graphically burning himself in the process.

In addition to the bear, other animals are harmed, too, including a horse being shot in the head and another flying off a cliff with a human, ending in bloody results. The same character later uses the carcass as a means of warmth, and we see him digging the intestines out of the deceased animal. We see him curl himself up inside of it.

Bison are attacked by wolves. There are also plenty of additional scenes of intense gun and knife play, including graphic shots to the chest and characters getting stabbed from head to toe. Another character appears to be scalped. The bloodshed is near continuous in this 2½ hour feature.

The language is also very strong, as the script is marred with at least fifteen or so f-words (Editor’s Note: That word did not exist in this time period.), a dozen plus s-words, and a single use of the n-word. Other milder profanities are used dozens of times including d**n, h*ll, p*ss, b**ch, and a**. Both God’s (mostly paired with d**n) and Jesus’ names are abused over a dozen plus times combined, and a crude reference is made to cutting off a man’s genitals.

Hard liquor is consumed, as we see drunken men appear on-screen on a few occasions. Other notes of caution include characters consuming raw, bloodied animal meat, vomiting, and the mistreatment of Native Americans. Gambling may also be observed in the background of a scene or two.

Although “The Revenant” is a bloody and profane film, there is a moral root behind its graphic story. The film does not make any nods toward religion, but a character does begin to say the Lord’s Prayer, and God is acknowledged by a couple of characters. A man also has a form of a heavenly vision on a couple of occasions. One character says to another, while pointing a gun at him, “I ought to be like God to you. God giveth, and God taketh away.” He may be disrespecting God, but this is a reference to Job 1:21 which reads “…The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (ESV). The main moral root to this particular story, though, is the questioning of revenge. One character says that “Revenge is in the Creator’s hands.” Later on in the film, a character does just that during a bloody fight and acknowledges that revenge belongs to God, not to himself. Though, he does not realize it until after the damage has already been done.

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” —Romans 12:19

“The Revenant” is a revenge tale that acknowledges morality (to a degree) and spirituality, although this may be questionable, especially since its title relates to a ghost or an animated spirit wreaking havoc among the living. The Native American’s spirituality is also slightly concerning in the film. Justice does ultimately prevail in this long epic, and strong perseverance is on display from not only Glass, but from other men in his group. War isn’t pretty, and “The Revenant” does not shy away from graphic detail of this or living in the wild. The sinful nature of man plays a huge role in the film, and the message of “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) is somewhat acknowledged by one of the main characters, as he leaves his revenge in God’s hands, realizing that he himself is also a sinful human being.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” —Romans 5:12

This message could be clearer in the film, though, as most audiences will not be looking for a strong moral meaning and message in this revenge tale. It also plays as a cautionary tale to a degree, as well. The words of Jesus come to mind from Matthew 5:38, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…’” But we need to keep in mind, as the film suggests, that all vengeance belongs to God. We need to repent of our sins before it is too late and realize that only God forgives through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. We just have to be open, confess our sins, proclaim Him as our Savior, and let Him into our hearts. This may be a far-fetched message for Hollywood to share, but as a follower of Christ, myself, I personally had an eye opening experience as I viewed this story about man’s sinful nature and contemplated its deep themes of revenge and justice. Although “The Revenant” contains some themes that may lead to a great discussion, I strongly recommend all audiences take a pass on this film, due to its depictions of graphic violence, strong language, and moments of disturbing sexual content.

“You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” —James 4:2

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This movie, while using the best visual constructs in years and a complicated story line, rips right through everything, tearing right into our souls, to leave 1 question: What kind of man will you be? This is about more than a man’s will to survive, but asks, on what terms? Will it be with honor and integrity, or without?

The main two characters are in battle the entire film. With themselves, with each other, and with the world. There is extreme violence, brief male nudity of the rear, a rape scene that is very brief, and a handful of curse words. It is shot beautifully. There is a scene near the beginning in a battle between poachers (?) and Indians that is breathtaking, and, as soon as it is viewed, you realize you are in for a glorious tale that is told with imagination, skill, and great beauty. It is a gruesome, romantic, terrifying adventure.

I think all true film lovers NEED to see it. I do not think this movie has any possibility of hurting one’s walk with Christ in any way. It is not influential towards (or glorifying of) sinful things. I would let mature 14-15 year-olds see this. I don’t see lot of young girls being too interested in this film, although I am a woman and loved it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chandra, age 35 (USA)
Positive—Yes, this “titanic” of a film is gory and graphic, but it excellently portrayed life on the frontier and all its hardships and atrocities. Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting was outstanding, as he powerfully played the role of Glass, a true-life frontiersman, and the gritty scenes made the viewer feel his intense pain and the struggle to survive present desperate circumstances while trying to deal with past deep and hurtful losses. The cinematography in a wintry Alberta was truly gorgeous, contrasting the stark frigid landscape with the brutal and dark facts before us. A breathtaking palette.

The brief nudity, an implied rape and scattered language and savage fight scenes didn’t offend or detract from the story, because we knew we were seeing life as it really was in the early 1800s. I would put this movie amongst classics like “Dances With Wolves” and we saw this movie late at night after helping friends move house all day, and yet we were glued to our seats and fixated on the screen, wondering what was going to happen next to this true mountain man, a man who was definitely not going to break like glass.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Christopher Marsden, age 60 (USA)
Positive—Yes, the movie has vulgarity, very brief male frontal nudity, violent and gruesome fight scenes, and implied rape. This would usually stop me from supporting a movie, however, knowing the setting going in, it was done in a way that did not take a lot away from the movie. I did have a few cringe moments, from God’s name being used in vain. This being said, it was a very well put together movie that I believe is a must see, if you enjoy this genre. As a Christian, I was slightly offended, but I really enjoyed seeing some beautiful artwork of Christ.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Scott, age 40 (USA)
Positive—This movie is well worth the money to see. Although it is… extremely graphic, it is very well done, and highly intense. Probably not for the faint of heart. DiCaprio was outstanding. As were the others. Was on pins and needles from the very start to the very end. Have never seen a movie this intense before. Would definitely see this one again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tom, age 68 (USA)
Negative—Far too long, too boring, too much control by Leonardo. He, like other stars before him, appears to have had control over the content and editing. 40 minutes of boring suffering should have made it to the editing floor vs. the reel. All I wanted to do after the movie was take a hot shower and get in some clean clothes. Yes, this was a terrible time and horrible way of life. The trailer shows all the high points—save your money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Laura, age 60 (USA)
Negative—This is a great example of the old adage that “the book is better than the movie.” Having read the book first, I was really looking forward to seeing this film, but came away hugely disappointed. I would encourage people (especially Christians) to skip the movie and just read the book by Michael Punke. It is a terrific piece of historical fiction based on real life events, whereas the movie is only loosely based “in part” on the book.

The book itself begins with Romans 12:9, whereas the movies puts those words (loosely) into the mouth of a Native American Indian. What’s more, the conclusion in the book is much more in keeping with Bible verse, whereas, in the movie, it is all about Glass personally enacting vengeance. What’s more, Punke does a superb job of explaining what life would have actually been like on the American frontier. It’s an edifying read in lots of different ways and has nowhere near the amount of profanity that the film does. I think I observed two occasions, and neither involved the “f” word.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Mark, age 44 (Australia)
Movie Critics

…vegetarians and viewers with otherwise delicate constitutions could spend half their time squirming with their sweaters pulled up over their eyes. …It’s “Jeremiah Johnson” meets “Apocalypse Now.” …
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

…‘The Revenant’ welcomes you to Paradise. Now prepare to Fall. …arrows and bullets are soon flying, bodies are falling and the muddy banks of a riverside camp are a gory churn. …Mr. Iñárritu blows it when he moves from the material to the mystical and tries to elevate an ugly story into a spiritual one…
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

…“The Revenant” is all scenery, no story… As an overabundance of running time is spent gorging on the stunning elements of dense forests and icy plains and sparkling rivers all basking in natural light, there’s no room left in the immense 156-minute production for any semblance of originality. …

…excruciatingly violent movie… the movie is not a simple story of revenge. Its conclusion is more nuanced than that—both more hopeful and more bleak. …
—Paul Asay, Plugged In

…It’s a grueling, often torturous tale, testing the limits of both its actors and audience. …Raw, brutal the revenant a triumph of spirit and technique…
—Jeffrey Huston, Crosswalk

…brutal, beautiful yet emotionally stunted epic…
—Justin Chang, Variety

egregiously overlong… a misery-fest that plants its narrative flags as carelessly as a Roland Emmerich blockbuster, guaranteeing us a viewing experience almost as arduous as the trials depicted on screen, before reaching a conclusion that’s sealed the moment audiences first meet the key players. …
—Jaime N. Christley, Slant magazine

The gorgeously brutal first hour of “The Revenant” marks the peak of director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s glittering if not quite golden career. For a while his new movie’s really something. Then, as Leonardo DiCaprio crawls across miles and miles of mighty pretty scenery filmed in Canada, Montana and Argentina, gradually it turns into not much of anything. …
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

……It’s filled with massacres and madness and mangy men with mossy teeth. It’s crammed with savagery—some committed by men in warpaint, some committed by men in Army uniforms. …It’s a gruesome adventure story that rarely lets up. … [4/5]
—Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)

…seeks transcendence through intensity and achieves it visually, if not dramatically. …I came out of this would-be epic feeling physically exhausted, psychically mauled and none the better for wear. …
—Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

…A film I admired, but didn’t especially like… I couldn’t understand half of what Tom Hardy says… The film doesn’t touch the heart, but its grip on the viscera is relentless.
—Kyle Smith, New York Post

…Iñárritu turns a creaky bit of frontier mythology into a gruelling, exquisite, mystical odyssey of survival that will make you cancel that camping trip. …
—Nick De Semlyen, Empire

…The sad thing… is that the story honored with such mastery is familiar journey/revenge stuff. …
—Alan Scherstuhl, Miami New Times

…mixed artistic disaster… extreme caution… although THE REVENANT has some strong Christian content and symbolism, it has equally strong spiritualist and atheist content…
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

Comments from non-viewers
—I appreciate that your reviewer, who has covered many movies, is recommending that we pass on this movie. I love to see notable performances, and I am very curious to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance and the direction of the highly regarded director of this film, but I also like to avoid extreme violence. I am glad I got your heads up on this one. Will just have to let go of my curiosity.
Halyna Barannik, age 69 (USA)

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