May 15, 2015

My Top 5 Favorite Tom Hardy Films

Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road
With today's release of Mad Max: Fury Road, I feel the need to bang a familiar gong: Tom Hardy is great. With the film receiving unanimously positive reviews - it has an unprecedented 99% on Rotten Tomatoes - it seems like he has finally come into his own as an action start after cutting his teeth on everything from Star Trek: Nemesis where he outshone The Next Generation veterans to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. However, he remains a talent with a promising career ahead of him. Don't believe? Here are five personal favorites that prove why Hardy is not only one of the best action actors out there, but just one of the best in general.

1. Bronson

Before he made Inception and told us to dream a little bigger, he turned in a performance of unprecedented heights as inmate Charles Bronson. His only wish was to be famous. His only outlet was to be the biggest psychopath imaginable. Along with the violent auteur Nicolas Winding Refn at his peak, the two created one of the best prison dramas that chose to comment on celebrity and sanity alongside various vignettes and set pieces that showed the black humor that fueled Bronson's ego. Even if you don't love it, it is impossible to think of Hardy as anything else after seeing Bronson, which he is fully committed to both literally and literally.

Left to right: Hardy and Joseph Gordon Levitt
2. Inception

Christopher Nolan's dream puzzler may be more iconic for its stylized realities and Leonardo DiCaprio's facial reactions, but among the cast was Hardy as the cocky Eames. While his performance is more of a piece to a puzzle, it still is quite a display, specifically as the film enters its third act and everyone is forced to fight for survival. In Hardy's most iconic scene, he wields a gun into existence while fighting an unseen foe. With his accent, he tells everyone to "dream a little bigger darling." With that, he began his rise into a household name and started his way towards making the heftier and just as memorable role as the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises

3. Locke

This is the perfect film for those that need to understand why Tom Hardy is a great actor. Yes, Bronson shows off his physicality and most everything else sees him in action-based roles. However, he is also a charismatic actor in the nuanced, quiet fashion. In Locke, he is a man driving home from work while taking various phone calls. While there's other disembodied voices, the film focuses entirely on Hardy talking to a car while expressing concern and going through relative emotions about work and family. It may be the most stripped down role that he has ever done, but it allows for us to understand the art of conversation and how inflection can make a big difference. It is the perfect antidote to those thinking that he is just an action star without any charisma.

Left to right: Hardy and Idris Elba
4. RockNRolla

Before director Guy Ritchie went on to make Sherlock Holmes movies, he did a series of great British gangster films that included the inimitable Snatch. While RockNRolla isn't as great, it does manage to keep the energy high with an ensemble cast full of actors who have only gone on to bigger and better things since (he is a wiz with casting). Among them is Hardy as Handsome Bob, a character whose conflicting sexuality leads to one of the more memorable moments in the film. He may only a tertiary character, but he makes the most of his limited screen time and proves that he could also be really funny. The only issue now is that Ritchie needs to live up to his end of the deal and deliver The Real RockNRolla as the closing credits promised.

5. Warrior

It would be close to impossible to make an acceptable top five for Tom Hardy without upsetting someone. However, if one was to focus on the diversity that he brought to his roles, it would feel criminal to leave off Warrior. While it plays into the familiar boxing movie format, it brings something unique to the MMA fighting family drama. Yes, he is as physical as he was in Bronson or The Dark Knight Rises. However, he is also as tender and compassionate as he was in Locke. If anything, this is a film that reflects his diversity so well that along with co-stars Joel Edgerton as his brother and Nick Nolte as their alcoholic father, this is a rather touching story of male bonding with an excellent ending as well. It has everything that Hardy should be bringing to his roles, and the results are excellent.

Scene from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Further Viewing:

1. Lawless
2. The Dark Knight Rises
3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
4. Marie Antoinette

What is your favorite Tom Hardy movie?

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