THE REVENANT (15)156 mins. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter and Forrest Goodluck.

IF film awards were bestowed for dogged determination and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, The Revenant would sweep next month’s Oscars.

The Revenant is a tour-de-force of technical brio and emotionally cold storytelling, but it’s not a journey into the heart of darkness for the sentimental or faint of heart.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu chose to shoot his sprawling historical epic in chronological order using natural light.

Explosions of violence are graphic and a horrifying bear attack early in the film unfolds in a single, unbroken take that shreds our nerves beyond repair.

Leading man Leonardo DiCaprio puts himself through the wringer for his art. In one stomach-churching scene, the fervent vegetarian eats a wild bison’s liver on camera because the role demands it.

Such unswerving dedication makes him a deserved frontrunner for the Academy Award and has just earned him a Golden Globe.

He plays 19th- Century explorer Hugh Glass, who guides a team of fur trappers and hunters under the command of Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson).

The men come under attack from Native Americans led by tribal chief Elk Dog (Duane Howard), whose daughter Powaqa (Melaw Nakehk’o) has been kidnapped.

The interlopers flee for their lives and Glass is subsequently injured in a mauling from a grizzly bear, which is protecting its cubs.

Henry leaves behind two men, Fitzgerald (Hardy) and Bridger (Will Poulter), to tend to Glass and his son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), while the rest of the trappers head for safety.

The Revenant is a gruelling two-and-a-half hours in the company of a filmmaker who refused to compromise.

Aided by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman), Inarritu conjures a nightmarish and unflinching vision of a grieving father’s revenge mission.

DiCaprio is mesmerising, dragging his wounded body across frozen landscapes before locking horns with Hardy’s scowling rival in an adrenaline-pumped climax that leaves us gasping for air.