Tag Archive: Tom Hardy


Alejandro González Iñárritu’s last film was the Academy Award winning Birdman. While that film received rave reviews from most critics and award circles, I thought that it was pretty overrated and far from the best film of 2014. Iñárritu’s latest film is The Revenant, a visceral revenge film that highlights the brutality of nature. It’s definitely a step up from Birdman and features an incredible performance from Leonardo DiCaprio who is operating at the height of his acting ability. Its script has a few problems that hold it back from being truly incredible, but this is definitely a cinematic experience that needs to be seen on the big screen.

DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass, a 19th century hunter and fur trader. Led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), their expedition is interrupted by a brutal attack from a Native American tribe. The group is forced to divert from their normal course and escape into the woods. While walking through the forest one morning, Glass is savagely attacked by a bear and left on the brink of death. When his injuries threaten to slow down the expedition, several men decide to stay behind with Glass, including his own son (Forrest Goodluck) and the angry John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Realizing that staying behind with Glass will cause them to be discovered by the Native American tribe, Fitzgerald leaves Glass for dead after murdering his son. But Glass isn’t just going to roll over and die and he embarks on a mission of vengeance across the dangerous frontier.

Most of the conversation surrounding The Revenant has focused on DiCaprio’s performance and for good reason; the guy practically bears his soul on the screen, effortlessly playing a skilled frontiersman struggling for his life. But it’s the connection that DiCaprio is able to establish with his son and the audience that really makes the performance memorable, especially since his character isn’t very well fleshed out on the page. The screenplay from Iñárritu and Mark L. Smith is actually quite simple, but the film’s use of obvious symbolism and strange imagery make it feel like its reach exceeds its grasp. The film would have actually benefited from Iñárritu cutting out more of the abstract and instead focusing on the simple story of revenge. But even with a few stumbles along the way, The Revenant is epic and undeniably great. Not only is it a great modern western, but it’s also another solid entry into DiCaprio’s impressive filmography.

The Revenant receives 3.5/4

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The Mad Max franchise is a strange beast. The name is recognizable to most, but it seems like the original trilogy of films never received the widespread popularity of other franchises. Part of this could be due to the fact that there hasn’t been a new entry in the franchise for exactly 30 years. It’s certainly been a long wait for a sequel, but maybe now George Miller’s franchise will receive more recognition with mainstream audiences. The franchise certainly deserves it because not only is Mad Max: Fury Road the best entry in the series yet, it’s also one of the best action films to come out in quite some time. With his fourth entry in the Mad Max saga, George Miller has created the post-apocalyptic film to end all post-apocalyptic films. It’s brutal, breathless, beautiful and the breath of fresh air that recent summer blockbusters so desperately needed.

Max (Tom Hardy) is surviving on his own in the desolate wasteland of the future. One day, he is abducted by a group of goons who work for King Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the ruthless leader of a desolate civilization. Max is used as a human blood bag for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), one of Joe’s sick soldiers. As Max is hooked up to an IV, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads a convoy away from Joe’s compound in search of gasoline. But Furiosa diverges from her scheduled course and Joe soon realizes that Furiosa has stolen every single one of his wives that he uses for breeding. Joe sends out a party to retrieve them, including Nux and his human blood bag.

This quickly establishes a chase after Furiosa that lasts throughout the entire film and sets up the first major action sequence in a film filled with major action sequences. As Nux barrels down the desert landscape with a convoy of Joe’s henchmen, he has Max tied to the front of his vehicle with an IV connecting the two. It’s a striking visual that’s complemented by John Seale’s gorgeously bleak cinematography and the out-of-this-world production design by Colin Gibson. In fact, the production design, makeup and costuming might be some of the greatest aspects of the film. Every character, every vehicle and every prop looks completely unique but manages to fit perfectly into the nihilistic aesthetic.

But it’s the action that’s bound to get people excited and, oh baby, this is what I call action. Other than a few brief moments of calm amongst the insanity, this is non-stop action from start to finish. George Miller may be 70, but he’s proven that directing two Happy Feet films hasn’t softened him in the slightest. From the intense and extended opening chase, to the three way fight between Max, Furiosa and Nux, to nighttime race to get unstuck from a wetland, to the final climactic moments, Fury Road is visceral and incredibly well directed. In essence, every action sequence in the film is essentially the same (they’re all car chases through the desert), but Miller puts just enough finesse on each scene to make it feel unique and prevent the bombastic chaos from ever becoming mind numbing. Even more amazing is how real all the effects look. CGI is used minimally and this provides a far more realistic experience than computers ever could. You know that when there is car crash, Miller and company actually crashed a car.

This is the first Mad Max film without Mel Gibson in the title role, but thankfully Tom Hardy makes an awesome replacement. Hardy captures the essence of the silent hero that Gibson perfected in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and he also manages to look awesome in the role while doing so. Hardy has continued to churn out great work ever since his breakout role in Inception, but he’s yet to become a household name. His performance here proves that he deserves to be the next great action star. As the film’s main villain, Hugh Keays-Byrne takes what could have been a somewhat underwhelming character and transforms him into an intimidating, over-the-top antagonist. Nicholas Hoult is fine as Nux, but a decision that his character makes halfway through the film feels very underdeveloped and doesn’t make a lot of sense given everything that was established about his character previously. It’s the only major misstep that this film takes, but from a storytelling aspect, it’s a problem that can’t be ignored. Finally, Charlize Theron truly surprises as Furiosa, a new character who manages to hold her own right alongside Max. In fact, she’s given even more to do than our title character and proves that she’s just as much of an action hero as Max.

During a time when action films constantly feel the need to overly complicate things with too much plot and too many characters, Fury Road is refreshingly simple. The entire plot – beginning to end – could be summed up and written on the back of a napkin and I mean that in the best possible way. Here’s a film that trims the fat, leaving in the only thing that truly matters in this type of film: the action. This franchise may not have the popularity among young people that is usually needed to generate a hit, but hopefully positive word of mouth will spread, because anyone who misses this movie is sure to miss out on one of the highlights of the summer. Max may be mad, but I’m certainly happy to have him back.

Mad Max: Fury Road receives 3.5/4

My Oscars 2015

The 87th Academy Awards are taking place this Sunday and it’s easily the biggest night of the year that Hollywood has to offer. Some great talent is sure to be honored, but I’m also sure that the Academy will fail to honor some of the more worthy individuals. Since I am not a member of the Academy and can’t actually choose who gets to take home the gold on Sunday, I decided to create my own awards. They may not be quite as prestigious as the Oscars, but maybe some of this year’s nominees will appreciate the praise that I’m giving them. Agree with my choices? What categories would you do differently? Let me know in the comments below!

Best Director

Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

David Fincher – Gone Girl

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

Denis Villeneuve – Enemy

Best Actor

Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

Tom Hardy – Locke

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

Scarlett Johannson – Under the Skin

Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Shailene Woodley – The Fault in our Stars

Best Supporting Actor

Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler

Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

Edward Norton – Birdman

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Carrie Coon – Gone Girl

Rene Russo – Nightcrawler

Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

Naomi Watts – Birdman

Best Original Screenplay

Calvary – John Michael McDonagh

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness

Locke – Steven Knight

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Best Adapted Screenplay

Enemy – Javier Gullón

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson

Under the Skin – Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer

Wild – Nick Hornby

Best Cinematography

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Enemy – Nicolas Bolduc

Foxcatcher – Greig Fraser

Gone Girl – Jeff Cronenweth

Interstellar – Hoyte Van Hoytema

Best Original Score

Enemy – Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans

Godzilla – Alexandre Desplat

Gone Girl – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Best Original Song

“Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie

“Glory” from Selma

“I’ll get you what you Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)” from Muppets Most Wanted

“Split the Difference” from Boyhood

“Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

 

Best Editing

Boyhood – Sandra Adair

Gone Girl – Kirk Baxter

Interstellar – Lee Smith

The Raid 2 – Gareth Evans

Whiplash – Tom Cross

Best Production Design

Exodus: Gods and Kings – Arthur Max

Foxcatcher – Jess Gonchor

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen

Interstellar – Nathan Crowley

Snowpiercer – Ondrej Nekvasil

Best Sound

The Babadook – Frank Lipson

Edge of Tomorrow – James Boyle and Dominic Gibbs

Fury – Paul N.J. Ottosson

Godzilla – Erik Aadahl, David Alvarez and Ethan Van der Ryn

Interstellar – Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten and Richard King

Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Edge of Tomorrow

Godzilla

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

My Top Ten Films of 2014

Best of 2014

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order): 22 Jump Street, Calvary, Edge of Tomorrow, Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy, Inherent Vice, Interstellar, John Wick, The Lego Movie, The One I Love, The Raid 2, Under the Skin, X-Men Days of Future Past

  1. The Guest – Any of my honorable mentions could have made their way into my number 10 slot, but I ended up choosing Adam Wingard’s hugely satisfying thriller, The Guest. It’s a story about a naïve family who open up their home to a total stranger, only to discover that this man is not as innocent as he seems. Like Wingard’s past efforts, it’s nothing more than a genre exercise, but it’s one that feels uniquely fresh and entertaining. With great performances, slick action and an awesome soundtrack, The Guest feels like a throwback to some of the more ridiculous action films of the 80s, while also managing to mix in its own modern sensibilities.
  1. LockeLocke is 85 minutes of Tom Hardy driving a car and talking on a phone. That’s it. Writer/director Steven Knight has somehow taken a gimmicky premise and used it to provide a wholly realized portrait of man who is simply trying to make the right decisions in his life. The character of Locke is forced to deal with the complications of a concrete pour, while also recovering from the confession of his infidelity to his wife. Attempting to supervise a concrete pour over the phone may not sound exciting and when the movie first begins, it isn’t. But as we begin to learn more about who Locke is and why he’s choosing to make these decisions, every aspect of his life becomes more and more fascinating. This is really a film that gets better and better as the film progresses and it’s all because of the slow development of Locke’s character and Tom Hardy’s incredible performance. Locke is a simple story, told in a unique and daring fashion.
  1. Fury – A profile of five men operating a tank in the European Theater of WWII, Fury is thoroughly gripping from start to finish. The action sequences are intense, well-directed and manage to separate themselves from the pack of other WWII movies with their focus on tank warfare. The film is bloody, brutal and none of the characters ever feel safe from the onslaught of enemy fire. A sequence that pits four American tanks against a superior German tank is shocking and exciting, as is the climactic standoff where our squad must battle an entire battalion of SS Nazi soldiers. But the action is worthless if you don’t care about the characters, so director David Ayer makes sure that each tank member has a distinctive personality. A highlight of the film is an extended sequence where Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman’s characters play house with two young German women. It’s a break in the action, but it goes to show how desperate these men are to receive some semblance of normalcy within the consistent chaos that they’re exposed to day after day. By making the war seem legitimately scary, Fury earns its place alongside all the great WWII movies.
  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to deny that Wes Anderson has developed a style that’s uniquely his own. With The Grand Budapest Hotel, he’s crafted his most beautiful looking film. Thanks to incredible set direction and production design, practically every frame of the film is a visual wonder. You could watch it with the sound off and still be entertained, but then you would be missing out on the engaging story and sharp dialogue that add another layer of beauty to the film. Aided by a great cast, Anderson has crafted a hugely entertaining tale that works as a remembrance for passed down stories and an affinity for days gone by. Viewers willing to check into this film are sure to enjoy their stay.
  1. Enemy – A surreal and provocative mindbender that’s as frightening as any horror film released this year, Enemy is an intricately plotted thriller that demands multiple viewings. From the opening shot to the final frame, it’s a film that will hold its viewers in a near constant state of suspense. Director Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to last year’s Prisoners proves that he’s a master at holding viewers on the edge. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a great two-sided performance and the grim cinematography from Nicolas Bolduc effectively provides the feeling that something just isn’t quite right in this world. Speaking of things not being quite right, the ending is a real shocker that ranks up there with the best of this year. Viewers accustomed to having every plot detail spoon fed to them should look elsewhere; this is a film that will lead to questions, interpretations and conversations. Sometimes, that’s the best kind of cinema.
  1. Boyhood – Shot intermittently from May 2002 to October 2013, Boyhood chronicles the life of a young boy named Mason from ages 6 to 18. It’s an incredible production story, but the film transcends this potential gimmick with fully realized characters, heartfelt moments and interesting themes that most coming of age films don’t even attempt to tackle. Never before has a film so expertly captured what it’s like to live in the 21st century. Everything from the clothes, to the hairstyles, to the vernacular feels authentic with the time period because each scene was filmed in its respective year. Decades from now, people will look back on this film as an authentic snapshot of life in the early 21st century. The amount of things that could have gone wrong with director Richard Linklater’s ambitious project are endless, but somehow everything came together to create a true piece of art that is as beautiful and moving as any motion picture can be. Linklater’s naturalistic direction keeps things poetically simple and eleven years of footage leads to an ending that is breathtaking in how it says so much by saying so little. This is surely one of the most realistic films ever made, but it’s also one of the most magical. I’ve never seen anything quite like Boyhood.
  1. Gone Girl – Adapated from Gillian Flynn’s entertaining page-turner of the same name, Gone Girl is a harrowing mystery that’s engrossing from start to finish. Fans of the source material will be pleased at the faithfulness of this adaptation, while new viewers will be absolutely floored by some of the twists and turns that this movie takes. Not only is it a great thriller, but it’s also a great satire of modern relationships and marriages. The extreme, heightened scenario that these characters are placed in may be rare, but the actions that they take while in this strange scenario are simply exaggerations of what many people do while in a marriage. Couples lie to each other, pretend to be someone else and struggle for power. These characters are written as hyperbolic exaggerations for a reason. Director David Fincher once again proves that he’s a master behind the camera, crafting a film that never lets up throughout its extended runtime. Not only does it rank right up there with his best work, but it’s also one of the most wholly satisfying thrillers to come out in years.
  1. Nightcrawler – A brilliant satire of modern news and the cutthroat business world, Nightcrawler is a startlingly accomplished directorial debut from Dan Gilroy. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers the best performance of 2013 and crafts a totally unique and interesting character in the process. Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom is a total sociopath, willing to put anybody into danger as long as it will get him further ahead. He wants to achieve success and he absolutely does not care how he gets there. Gyllenhaal reportedly lost 20 pounds for the role and Bloom’s gaunt physique and long hair only add to his uncomfortable persona. The script by Gilroy also offers plenty of dark humor that may catch some viewers off guard. Gyllenhaal’s character is so loathsome that you almost have to laugh at all of the horrible acts he’s willing to commit. All of these acts culminate in a fantastically directed final action sequence, one that continues to shock even after you think it could go no further. It’s a film that’s full of surprises and feels like a breath of fresh air in the occasionally mundane cinematic landscape.
  1. Foxcatcher – If you’re looking for a feel-good film to boost your spirits and morale, then I must warn you to stay far, far away from Foxcatcher. Here is a sports film with all of the happiness sucked out of it, which is then replaced by an ever mounting sense of dread and scenarios so disturbing that they’re borderline horror movie territory. But what makes this film scarier than most is that it’s completely true. In his best film to date, director Bennett Miller has crafted a true-life tale that’s as haunting as a quiet nightmare. Miller is aided by a fascinating script and three transformative performances from Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo. Aided by some extensive makeup work, Carell’s performance as the wealthy John du Pont is a true standout and the character that he embodies lingers long after the film has ended. It’s a thematically rich film about tragedy, loneliness, the obsession to achieve greatness, and the idea that the wealthiest people in America can use their money to buy whatever kind of life they desire. In just his fourth feature film, Bennett Miller has created a true work of art that is nothing short of astounding.
  1. Whiplash – Sometimes the best thing about movies is their ability to surprise you. Before I saw Whiplash, I would have never imagined that it would end up being my favorite film of 2014. Now, over two months since I originally saw it, my love for the film has only continued to grow. This tale of a maniacal jazz conductor and the young student that he chooses to inflict his wrath upon is intense and undeniably powerful. This isn’t a heartfelt story of a teacher encouraging a student to do his best; it’s a story of a harmful relationship between an abuser and an abusee. Director Damien Chazelle’s directing is tight and spot-on, while his script smartly explores the idea of wanting to achieve something regardless of the cost. Miles Teller delivers an extremely physical performance as we watch him bang on the drum set until his hands are bloody, while J.K. Simmons creates one of the most vicious, ruthless, disturbing and downright evil characters to appear in a movie in quite some time. All of this builds to a final sequence that is equal parts shocking and exhilarating. Just as the film appears to veer towards a fairly obvious ending, the rug is pulled out from underneath us with a truly surprising reveal. Chazelle manages to find an ending that is neither completely uplifting nor completely upsetting and entirely avoids the schmaltz that is typically associated with similar films. It’s more frightening that any horror film I’ve seen in years and one of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences that I’ve ever had. With taut direction, amazing performances and an infectiously toe-tapping jazz soundtrack, this is sure to blow away your expectations, just like it did mine. Whiplash is, without a doubt, the best film of the year.

Locke – Movie Review

It can be difficult to have a film that takes place in only one location from beginning to end. Not only do you need a smart script and clever direction, but the performances must also be up to snuff, especially if you’re in that location with only one character for the duration of the film. Other than a few shots at the beginning and end of the film, Locke’s entire story unfolds inside of a car. Luckily, there’s some significant talent on display, both in front of and behind the camera and they keep the events of the story interesting, without even having to change locations. It may have a slow beginning, but the entire film rests squarely on Tom Hardy’s shoulders and he’s able to deliver a fantastic performance, while also crafting an interesting and sympathetic character.

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a construction foreman, who is several hours away from supervising one of the largest concrete pours in Europe’s history. But on the eve of this pour, he receives a call from a woman that he had a one night stand with and learns that she is going into labor. Because she has no one else to be with her, he decides to drive several hours away to be there for the birth. This forces him to abandon his responsibilities as a construction foreman and coach his assistant (Andrew Scott) over the phone on how to prepare for the pour. He is also forced to abandon his wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson), who calls to figure out why her husband is not coming home. Locke deals with all of these situations through phone calls on his way to the hospital. He knows that when he finally exits the vehicle, his life will never be the same.

Locke is a unique moviegoing experience, not only because the film takes place in a single location from beginning to end, but also because the situations that Locke must deal with are surprisingly normal. These aren’t the typical end of the world, life and death situations that are present in a lot of movies today. Instead, Locke is forced to deal with the complications of a concrete pour, while also recovering from the confession of his infidelity to his wife. Attempting to supervise a concrete pour over the phone may not sound exciting and when the movie first begins, it isn’t. But as we begin to learn more about who Locke is and why he’s choosing to make these decisions, every aspect of his life becomes more and more fascinating. This is really a film that gets better and better as the film progresses and it’s all because of the slow development of Locke’s character.

It also doesn’t hurt that Locke is a pretty interesting guy. He’s a totally normal man, with a family that loves him and a job that he’s really good at. But the perfect life that he’s spent years building up crumbles in less than two hours, all because of a single mistake that he made seven months ago. It’s also worth noting that Locke was abandoned by his own father, so he certainly isn’t going to abandon his own child, whether this decision hurts him or not. It takes much more than a good performance to carry a film like this, but Tom Hardy absolutely delivers a great one. While his performance is impressive because he’s the only character to appear on screen, it’s also much deeper than his ability to pull off this gimmicky sounding premise. He portrays Locke as a calm and collected individual, one who stays committed to his decisions even when they blow up in his face. The rare moments where he does explode in anger feel completely genuine and a moment where he’s on the verge of tears towards the end of the film is very moving. It’s also worth noting that the strong Welsh accent that Hardy adopts for the role never falters.

Even though Locke is spending nearly an hour and a half alone in his car, his life continues to move around him. As we watch him drive through the night, the city lights that are constantly reflected on his windows imply just how quickly things are changing. They occasionally give the images a dream-like quality, almost as if the events that are occurring in Locke’s life are too painful to fully comprehend. Writer and director Steven Knight shot the film in just six days, with Hardy filming his driving scenes in uninterrupted takes. It’s a strange way to shoot a movie, which is fitting for a film that never succumbs to convention. Locke is a simple story, told in a unique and daring fashion.

Locke receives 3.5/4

This week, several new posters have been released for The Dark Knight Rises. Pictured below is the official poster followed by three character posters. In the official one-sheet, we see Gotham city literally burning to the ground. While this is a cool idea, this poster is too similar to other posters that were already released for the film. These character posters feature Batman, Catwoman, and Bane standing in the rain. The rain on these posters perfectly fits the tone of the series and the slight debris that is falling is a great nod to earlier posters in which Gotham City crumbled to the ground. Check out all of these new posters below.