I can totally see why Leonardo DiCaprio won a Golden Globe for his performance in this film. He manages not only to make you feel like you are right there, watching this happen to a real person, but you also feel the pain he is going through. I was cringing, twitching, and gagging for most of the film. You know how some people take their easily scared friends to a scary movie? This is a good movie to take your squeamish friends too. Their reactions will be epic.
It was about thirty minutes in when I was getting nauseous from the gore and realized I should not have seen this movie. I decided to stay because I figured the worst was over, the bear attack happened, so it’s all uphill now, right? The mending will begin as he travels back to camp. Yeah, I was wrong. The punishment never ends for Leonardo’s character. It seriously continues right up to the last few minutes. So if you can’t handle the gore in the first few scenes, leave, just leave, cause it only gets worse.
The plot is loosely based on real events. You can tell this is a story that has evolved in true “tall tale” fashion. A secondary story or two are included to provide opportunities for seeing more of the horrible side of humanity (some rape and double crosses regarding Native Americans and the French) and shine some more “awesomeness” on Leonardo.
I hope Leonardo got some massages or something as part of his contract, cause most of the movie has him on the ground crawling. That had to be rough on his body, even in real life. And it was filmed outdoors, in real frigid temps, so that is really Leonardo crawling through snow and splashing around in icy water.
Should you see the movie? Yes, but only if you have the stomach for it. This isn’t blood and gore for the sake of it, like the Hateful 8, this is emotional gut-wrenching pain that you will feel in more ways than one. The plot, although it does feel exaggerated, will keep your attention.