Glass is the guide of a fur enterprise in the American West. His son Hawk, a half Indian, is everyone Glass has left in the world. When, running from Indians, Glass is severely mauled by a grizzly bear, the remaining members of his expedition must carry him.
Faced with a rocky incline, the Captain offers money to Hawk and two other members of the expedition to stay behind with Glass until he meets his Maker. Only Glass refuses to die. Hawk is killed, and Glass is left for dead in the midst of a brutal winter. But he discovers that his will to survive at any cost, and the need to avenge the death of his son are stronger than any obstacle man or nature puts in his path.
I am a fan of Alejandro García Iñárritu, who directed, wrote the script and produced The Revenant. His best known movies like 21 Grams, and Babel, have a circular storyline in which characters' fates meet in the end. I like that. Lately, however, Iñárritu has abandoned that non-linear narrative in favor of more linear storytelling (e.g. Biutiful, Birdman, and now The Revenant), and it seems it's paying off.
The Revenant has a very elemental quality, from the raw characters' performances to the primeval nature of the environment in which it is shot. DiCaprio's Glass gets mauled by a bear, eats raw fish, raw bison, spends a blizzard, naked, in the innards of a dead horse, and endures the unimaginable to survive.
I have never seen anything quite like it. I heard Leo DiCaprio talk about the process of filming this movie. Apparently they endured more or less what the film reflects. That's quite gutsy if you ask me.
The performances were stellar, from minor characters like Domnhall Gleeson as the Captain, Forrest Goodluck (Hawk) and Will Poulter (Bridger), to the villain Fitzgerald, interpreted by Tom Hardy, and Leonardo DiCaprio as Glass.
Leonardo DiCaprio has extraordinary performances under his belt—The Aviator, The Departed, Revolutionary Road, Blood Diamond, Inception, J. Edgar—but in The Revenant he left his soul in the arena, so to speak.