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Tom Hardy

Dunkirk (2017)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST: Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan

REVIEW:

With Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan has switched gears into a genre he’s never explored before, the war film, with a docudrama depiction of the Dunkirk evacuation (named after the French town where it took place), where 300,000 British soldiers with their backs against the sea were rescued by an armada of civilian volunteers, including fishing boats and private yachts, in what became known as “the miracle of Dunkirk” (despite being a retreat, the mass rescue was so unlikely that Winston Churchill himself cautioned the celebratory mood by stating that “wars are not won by evacuations”).   Perhaps partly because it focuses on an Allied retreat, perhaps partly because no Americans were involved (Dunkirk took place over a year before the United States entered the war), the Dunkirk evacuation hasn’t gotten much Hollywood attention; the only high-profile film I can recall even touching on it is Atonement, and that only in one sequence.  For the venerable writer-director, Dunkirk showcases his often-cited greatest strengths and weaknesses perhaps more starkly than ever before; a technically virtuoso filmmaking accomplishment but emotionally cold.  Dunkirk may strongly appeal to WWII buffs, but its appeal to mainstream audiences is in doubt. Continue reading

The Revenant (2015)

7851989_fc819d0327a9899589c1a220af8b6bc8_wmDIRECTOR: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL REVEAL IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

For the follow-up to his 2014 Oscar-winning offbeat comedy-drama Birdman, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has chosen to take the saying “revenge is a dish best served cold” very, very literally.  The Revenant is inspired by the true story of 1800s frontiersman Hugh Glass, which also inspired the 1971 Richard Harris film Man in the Wilderness, but takes its share of liberties with the true story, and the two loose versions of Glass’ tale are different enough to each be judged on their individual merits (The Revenant is not a remake of Man in the Wilderness, merely inspired by the same story, and does its own thing).  In a year with its share of survival stories hitting theaters, it’s better-crafted than In the Heart of the Seaand far more dark and brutal than The Martian (compared to The Revenant, The Martian is practically a comedy).  In its “man vs. Nature” narrative, sometimes existential tone, and unflinching bleakness, it’s a cinematic cousin to both the Liam Neeson drama The Gray and the gritty Australian revisionist Western The Proposition.  The Revenant is hardly the “feel good” movie of the year, and it definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those to whom the subject matter appeals, it’s a visceral, immersive, and uncompromising film experience. Continue reading

Legend (2015)

Legend (2015)DIRECTOR: Brian Helgeland

CAST: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri, Taron Egerton, Paul Anderson, Paul Bettany, Kevin McNally, Sam Spruell

REVIEW:

My opinion of Legend is much the same as that of another true crime docudrama, Black Massa few months earlier; a tour de force lead performance(s) and some memorable individual scenes doing too little to enliven an otherwise dull and generic gangster flick.  If you’re a big enough fan of the gangster movie genre, or of Tom Hardy, Legend may be worth a look, but “legendary” it is not.  Those hoping for a gangster epic conveying the true story of 1960s London’s notorious Kray twins will be left wanting.  For writer/director Brian Helgeland, who made a name for himself with 1997’s LA Confidential (and also wrote and directed 1999’s deliciously hard-boiled crime caper Payback), this is a disappointingly uninspired and generic effort that like Black Mass comes across as “Scorsese-lite” and fails to make the true story of the Krays as riveting as one senses it should have been.  LA Confidential won Helgeland an Oscar, but while a case could easily be made for a nomination for Tom Hardy, the rest of Legend is far from Oscar material.   Continue reading

Child 44 (2015)

889372DIRECTOR: Daniel Espinosa

CAST: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Fares Fares, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Charles Dance

REVIEW:

Adapting a book can be a tricky task; change too much and outrage its adherents, but follow the text too slavishly and risk a sluggish motion picture. Book and film are different mediums and should be treated as such.  With its myriad subplots and in-depth exploration of life in the 1950s Soviet Union, Tom Rob Smith’s best-selling historical crime novel (loosely inspired by the case of 1980s Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo) doesn’t lend itself to being inherently cinematic, and director Daniel Espinosa and screenwriter Richard Price’s attempt to bring it to the screen is sometimes murky, scattershot, and difficult to follow.   Continue reading

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

vehiclesDIRECTOR: George Miller

CAST: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Riley Keough, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton

REVIEW:

In 1979, an Australian doctor-turned-director named George Miller made a low-budget movie called Mad Max that went on to make a star out of a then-unknown Mel Gibson and virtually launch the post-apocalyptic film genre, as well as serve as inspiration for any number of post-apocalyptic and road chase movies in the decades since.  Miller followed up with 1981’s The Road Warrior and 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.   In the interim, he directed such far more family-friendly fare as Babe and Happy Feet, but Mad Max was always his baby.  During the hiatus, Miller tried various times starting in 1998 to make the film which would eventually become Fury Road, but after several mis-starts, star Mel Gibson dropped out in 2003, feeling he was too old for the part but giving Miller his blessing to forge ahead without him.  In 2009, after several Australian actors (including the late Heath Ledger) unsuccessfully pursued or were considered for the title role, British actor Tom Hardy, at the time still a virtual unknown on this side of the Atlantic, officially stepped into Max’s boots.  Filming commenced in November 2011 but was forced to move from the Australian Outback (the filming location of every previous installment) when unexpected heavy rains transformed the desert into lush fields of wildflowers inappropriate for the look of the movie, relocating instead to Africa’s Namib Desert.  And now, after an arduous shoot and lengthy post-production, Fury Road has finally brought the long-dormant action franchise roaring back onto the big screen.  For many, the thirty-year gap between Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road will be worth the wait.  By Miller’s own admission, this is the movie he would have made all along if he’d been able, and it is clear that this long-gestating project has been a labor of love.  Armed with a budget he could once only have dreamed of (reportedly approximately $150 million), Miller has given us a new adventure that is recognizably a Mad Max movie but also does its own thing.  Mad Max has returned with a bang. Continue reading

The Drop (2014)

downloadDIRECTOR: Michael Roskam

CAST: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz

REVIEW:

The Drop is the kind of slow-burn, low-key crime drama that can be rewarding to fans of the genre who appreciate a story that unfolds at its own pace, but will be dismissed as boring by mainstream crowds, devoid of sex, explosions, car chases, or gunfights.  What little violence there is comes in brief, sudden bursts, few and far between.  If you’re looking for action, this is not the movie for you.  Even for those interested, a little hunting for a theater may be required; The Drop was initially released as a low-profile indie film in only 809 theaters, delaying this review for a week until positive critical reviews and a decent performance at the box office led to an expansion of showings.  Despite the lack of attention, The Drop comes from a respectable pedigree.   Continue reading

Locke (2013)

2F3A9835.jpgDIRECTOR: Steven Knight

CAST: Tom Hardy, voices of Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Tom Holland, Bill Milner

REVIEW:

So, how engaging can a movie be centering entirely on 90 minutes of a man driving in a car and talking on the phone, with the other characters only present via their voices?  As it turns out, Locke is often surprisingly absorbing in the moment, even if it’s ultimately unable to withstand the onset of monotony.  A small, low-key, low-budget indie movie initially opening at independent film festivals in the UK, Locke moved on to a limited theatrical release in the US amid positive critical reviews  and a much-praised performance by Tom Hardy, but the prospect of spending an hour and a half watching a film in which nothing happens but a man driving in a car dealing with a series of personal crises on the phone is not a premise to draw mainstream crowds.  Locke may be a critical darling, but it’s strictly indie art-house fare, and while an intriguing cinematic experiment, its gimmicky premise ultimately wears thin. Continue reading

Lawless (2012)

DIRECTOR: John Hillcoat

CAST: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Dane DeHaan

REVIEW:

Based on Matt Bondurant’s 2008 historical novel The Wettest County in the World, a semi-fictionalized account of the Prohibition-era bootlegging activities of his grandfather Jack Bondurant and his grand-uncles Forrest and Howard, Lawless doesn’t reach the level of the bootlegging film classics it aspires toward, but it’s still an entertaining and engaging, if unspectacular, outlaw adventure that’s soaked in enough blood and moonshine to appeal to fans of the genre. Continue reading

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman

REVIEW:

WARNING: WHILE I HAVE ASPIRED TO AVOID OUTRIGHT “SPOILERS”, THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Along with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers earlier this summer (and to a lesser extent, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man films before it), Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has redefined the possibilities of what to expect from a “comic book superhero movie” and raised the bar to a level that future entries in the genre will be hard-pressed to equal, let alone surpass.  Continue reading

This Means War (2012)

DIRECTOR: McG

CAST:

Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler, Til Schweiger, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris

REVIEW:

This Means War is an adequate hour and a half of diversion for the bored and undemanding, but is as slickly studio-polished a slice of fluffy and forgettable mindless entertainment as can be found. Continue reading

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