You won’t complain about a bad camping experience ever again after seeing this. It’s a well-made film, with magnificent scenery and suitably marvellous cinematography, and Hollywood has come a long long way since the early days in the way it portrays indigenous people. What a pity it hasn’t come far enough in depicting violence and injury to learn that sometimes less can be more. It’s a good story, and we can imagine how a skilled frontiersman could survive in that harsh environment even with serious wounds, but too much time is devoted to depicting the sheer horribleness of what happens to the main character, and not enough to accounting for his behaviour and the way events unfold. Why, for instance, having devised a cunning ruse to fool the baddie, didn’t he take full advantage of it and finish him off when he could? Instead we have a long drawn-out climactic scene more in keeping with an out-and-out action movie. And why, when he had a fire going and caught a fish bare-handed, didn’t he cook the damn thing?
There are good supporting characters and sub-plots, but even though it’s a long film these are not fully explored and to a certain extent are wasted. It’s as though the movie-makers have decided that fitting in the last bits of action is more important than tying up loose ends of plot and character development.
In the end the violence and suffering are just a bit too relentless. There should be more light and shade in a story like this.
The overplaying of the violent action detracts from the drama and suspense and I suspect Leonardo di Caprio will get his Oscar not so much for his acting as for having to put up with shovelling raw bloody animal guts into his gob. Sure, they were presumably not real, but whatever they were they looked pretty disgusting.
This review was first published to Facebook on Jan 11, 2016