It is not a well guarded secret that I am a huge Tom Hardy fan. He is one of four actors I will not miss, unless the movie is not in my area. A score of performances from 2008 to 2012 cemented his place in that pantheon.
Needless to say, I have been ecstatic to see Mad Max: Fury Road since last year, but even more excited as early reviews trickle in with glowing praise! Mr. Tom Hardy is assuredly receiving praise for his role, as is Charlize Theron. Stay tuned for what is to come for this movie, but I’m predicted big things, and I don’t mean necessarily at the box office.
While we all wait with bated breath for Thursday night/Friday morning to see Mad Max: Fury Road, unless you were fortunate enough to get an early release, it would seem appropriate, nay necessary(!), to countdown my favorite performances of everyone’s favorite intense mumbling Englishman.
While there are enough to make a Top 10, some of the performances he gives in less than stellar movies deserve mention, as well as some better performances in decent movies. His potential shows through in Star Trek: Nemesis as Captain Picard’s young clone, as well as Lawless, which is almost negated by Shia LeBeouf’s rough performance, and a quality performance in a lesser role in Marie Antoinette. He has given quality performances in better movies like Layer Cake, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the BBC2 show Peaky Blinders. Before I gush all over this here webpage, lets kick it into gear with the Top 5.
There are few actors today who can pull of the commanding performance Tom Hardy does in the 2014 movie, Locke. The whole movie is Hardy in his car talking on his bluetooth speaker phone as he tries to navigate one mistake that changes his life in one evening. Even to me, on the surface, it doesn’t sound that interesting, but it is one of Hardy’s most reserved performances and it is special. The BMW he is cruising in cannot contain the powerful depth he manages to communicate. Small inflections, a frustrated glance, the reassurance to his co-worker, “everything is going to be okay.” Exemplary of the talent he has and the upside he has going forward as a leading man.
Between this movie and #3 on the list, they might be his breakout performances. In 2011, Hardy starred alongside Nick Nolte and Joel Edgerton in the sports drama, Warrior. The movie is much better than it should have been, and Hardy is particularly well-suited for his role. Instead of gushing over the whole of the performance, there is one particular scene that captures how great of an actor he is.
When he walks into the greasy spoon diner his dad likes to eat “garbage”, as Nolte’s character describes it, Hardy’s Tommy Conlon walks in with a tough guy with a past confidence. He sits down and agrees to train with his father, but will not be dictated by him this time around, as he was in high school. Note is the broken father, Hardy is the confident and older son. On a dime, Nolte returns to form as the tough guy coach-dad he was years ago to Tommy and immediately, Hardy plays it perfectly and wilts back into a scared teenage boy right before our eyes. Pretty soon he’s giving up three bottles of pills and being told not to eat the “garbage food” his father eats. The scene sold me on the movie and on Hardy’s character after the scene concluded.
While Hardy is far from the lead in this movie, he is one of the more memorable characters in Christopher Nolan’s Inception as the thorn in Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur, Eames. He’s smart, he’s dashing, and he’s suave. He’s a James Bond-like character but with a dry wit and prankster streak that is usually reserved for teasing Arthur. Hardy brings an artful role to this Forger and while his performance is not dynamic, he makes his lines count and only adds to a movie that will be some people’s favorites for the rest of their lives. While this movie made him a more recognizable celebrity and actor, the next movie on our list is the movie that established his intimidating physicality and powerful presence in his roles that would culminate (as it stands in 2015) in the #1 movie on this list.
Not many of you might have seen this movie, but you can watch it on Netflix and Amazon Prime and is essential viewing for any fan of Tom Hardy. Hardy plays Michael Peterson, a young man in Britain who wants to make a name for himself, so he tries to rob a post office. He is swiftly apprehended and sentenced to prison for seven years for his crime. He spends 30 of the next 34 years in prison and sees his previous self fade away as a maniacal alter-ego, Charlie Bronson, takes him over and transforms him into Britain’s most notorious and violent inmate.
Hardy plays this tension of sweet innocence and unhinged insanity to near perfection. Hardy is physical, charismatic, charming, and terrifying. Bronson wants a normal life but he wants to be famous. We sympathize with him and laugh with him, yet turn away in horror as he explodes in another violent outburst, only the be charmed once more by his wit and intelligence. While at times it is over-the-top, the #1 movie on this list is like a more intelligent, more controlled Bronson character.
Of all the performances Hardy has taken over the years, his villainous role as Gotham’s reckoning, Bane, is a dark and bruising blend of Hardy’s physicality, intelligence, celebrity building, and charisma. Not only did he beef up immensely for the movie, but his screen presence does, also. He owns the scene when he is in it, and I get a sense of deference to the force of his character from other actors in the movie. It might be my slight man-crush on Hardy playing out here, but he is in charge as Bane and he will give orders and not take them. MY biggest problem with The Dark Knight Rises is how Bane dies. For all the charisma-swallowing Hardy does throughout the movie, he is given the lamest death of any bad guy I can remember in a Batman movie. He is SHOT BY CATWOMAN! If I had a C’mon moment for this movie, this is certainly the one! So frustrating and so dumb. BLARGH…
That’s it, article over. I’m too mad about Bane’s death to talk about Tom Hardy any more. Go see Mad Max: Fury Road and then go see it again.