The Revenant ★★★

Conceding the film's flawed nature—punishingly unsubtle and aimlessly ramshackle in its plotting, unfulfilled diversions to the French settlers and the Pawnee tribe's search for their daughter, which exacts a considerable toll on thematic clarity and emotional impact—the sheer macho force with which Iñárritu bangs his drum lends the film's elemental story a ruthless intensity and brutal grandeur that barrels off of the screen with an aggressive willfulness that overcomes its own simplicity through sheer insistent force.

DiCaprio's wheezing, grunting, mucus smeared performance fits smoothly into Iñárritu's savage portrait of man in its elemental state, purely reactive and functional, fueled by a boiled down rage that obliterates any other human characteristics.

It's only through Lubezki's masterful cinematography that the film manages a level of thematic complexity beyond the essentialzed revenge story. The ethereal beauty of Lubezki's magisterially painterly images lend an existential meditativeness to the film's twin study of man's essential propensity for venal savagery—exploring the conflict between DiCaprio's evolved sensitivity and his base impulses once overcome with sorrow—and the paradoxical, fervid insistence with which he strives to impose civilization upon nature—Gleeson's character as a noble man frustrated by the base amorality of those around him represents manifest destiny and the superiority of western models while DiCaprio's humanism and compassionate understanding stand as a testament to man kind's potential for harmony.