Tag Archives: Tom Hardy

RockNRolla (2008) Review

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RocknRolla

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, Offensive Language & Drug Use
Cast:
Gerard Butler as One-Two
Mark Strong as Archy
Tom Wilkinson as Lenny Cole
Toby Kebbell as Johnny Quid
Tom Hardy as Handsome Bob
Idris Elba as Mumbles
Thandie Newton as Stella
Jeremy Piven as Roman
Ludacris as Mickey
Director: Guy Ritchie

Small-time crooks One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba) decide to legitimately invest in some prime real estate and find themselves out of their depth and in debt to old-school London gangster Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). Cole himself is in the middle of a business deal with a Russian gangster, but when his accountant tips off One Two and Mumbles to the details of an upcoming big-money business transaction, the two scallywags swoop in and steal the cash.

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Guy Ritchie established himself as a filmmaker to pay attention to with Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch, both British crime comedies. RocknRolla, which was released in 2008, marked his next main gangster movie in roughly a decade, and it was quite good. It’s not as quite as good as the gangster movies that made him well known, but Ritchie is in his element here, and it’s quite entertaining for what it was.

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With the story, characters and tropes, you can definitely tell it was directed by Guy Ritchie. It’s very well written, and has some interesting characters and plenty of plot twists. It’s also quite funny, very witty, and contains plenty of hilarious dialogue. Like Snatch there are so many characters and plotlines. The story branches out then effectively ties together at the climax, which I thought was done well. With that said, the story itself was a bit weak and is definitely overcomplicated, even if I like how some of the storylines and characters tie together. The storyline involving Tom Wilkinson’s character and the Russians I particularly found a bit hard to follow. It does suffer from slow pacing and being a bit predictable at points, even if I enjoyed watching all of it. It’s not a massive criticism but a disappointment is that it really does fall into the familiar tropes that Ritchie has already fallen into with his past movies. It’s more or less the same type of films with intertwined plots and characters of all different sites, all tied together by one little thing. However, those other two movies didn’t feel messy or convoluted like it does here. RockNRolla is still funny and there’s lots of gags, though it does seem to be missing something. The ending also does feel a bit rushed. One point in difference between RockNRolla and Ritchie’s first two movies that’s not better or worse is that it’s a little darker and more grounded and realistic, certainly not as offbeat as say Snatch. Everything here is sour and shady. It’s not devoid of fun, and a lot of the dialogue is hilarious, it’s just one way it differs from those other movies.

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One consistently great thing in this movie is the great acting, there is a large cast and they all do well in their parts. Much of the cast includes Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Toby Kebbell and Tom Wilkinson, they all do a great job. In terms of standouts, for me it’s Gerard Butler, Toby Kebbell, Tom Hardy, and Mark Strong.

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Guy Ritchie takes the style that he had with Lock Stock and Snatch and combined it with his more modern filmmaking and it really paid off. The editing is always great and intertwines with the camerawork fluently. Visually, it’s surprisingly not quite as super stylised as Ritchie’s other films have been. There are some characteristic and signature camera tricks of his, especially towards the end of the movie. However for the most part, it plays more like an ordinary gangster action film. Nonetheless it works. The soundtrack is great too and is utilised perfectly.

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RockNRolla wasn’t quite a return to form for Guy Ritchie even with it being within the genre that he’s known for, but it’s still a very enjoyable British crime flick. The characters are interesting, the acting is great from everyone, it’s funny, and it’s very stylish and generally entertaining. If you liked Snatch, or Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, or really any other British gangster comedy thrillers, then it’s worth checking out for sure. RockNRolla had a sequel-bait ending and for all of my issues with the movie, I actually did wish that Ritchie made a follow up, because there was really a lot of potential there.

Layer Cake (2004) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes
Cast:
Daniel Craig as XXXX
Colm Meaney as Gene
Kenneth Cranham as Jimmy Price
George Harris as Morty
Jamie Foreman as the Duke
Michael Gambon as Eddie Temple
Marcel Iureş as Slavo
Tom Hardy as Clarkie
Tamer Hassan as Terry
Ben Whishaw as Sidney
Burn Gorman as Gazza
Sally Hawkins as Slasher
Sienna Miller as Tammy
Director: Matthew Vaughn

An unnamed mid-level cocaine dealer (Daniel Craig) in London makes plans to step away from the criminal life. Before he can cut ties, the dealer’s supplier Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) draws him into a complicated pair of jobs involving kidnapping the teenage daughter of a rival gangster (Michael Gambon) and brokering the purchase of a large shipment of ecstasy pills from a dealer known as “the Duke” (Jamie Foreman), leading to a series of elaborate double-crosses from all corners.

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Layer Cake was Matthew Vaughn’s first movie, before then he produced some of Guy Ritchie’s movies. It was very well received and put him on the map as a director to watch, with him very nearly directing the third X-Men movie afterwards. Although I saw it already years ago, I wanted to check it out again, since I was already rewatching some of Matthew Vaughn’s movies recently. It’s even better than what I remembered it being from my first viewing.

Layer Cake is written by J.J. Connelly, adapting his book of the same name for the big screen. It’s a pretty standard British crime thriller, albeit a very good one with some twists and turns. One could compare this to Guy Ritchie’s crime movies (especially seeing as how Vaughn was involved with Ritchie’s early movies), although there are some similarities, there are plenty of distinct differences between them, especially when it comes to the tone. Vaughn’s other R rated movies generally has a lot of dark comedy to it, Layer Cake on the other hand is more serious, more like a crime thriller and doesn’t have as much comedy. It for sure has some brief dark comedy at points however. It’s actually pretty riveting over the hour and 45 minutes runtime. I think the main reason that this all works really well together though is because of the lead character, which I’ll get into in a bit.

As good as a bunch of all this is, Layer Cake wouldn’t have been as great without Daniel Craig, who honestly makes this movie. Craig is outstanding as the unnamed lead character (not exactly sure why his name is never revealed), who in this movie is more of a businessman than a gangster, in fact he hates gangsters and violence. He also shows a very wide range of emotions as he’s thrown into so many situations that he’s struggling to keep alive in, and through his performance you can really root for the lead character. You can definitely tell why Daniel Craig was picked for James Bond, there’s a lot of Bond that you can see in his performance here. One of Craig’s best, if not his best performance. The rest of the cast also played their parts really well. The rest of the cast including Colm Meaney, George Harris, Michael Gambon, Tom Hardy, Ben Whishaw and Sienna Miller all play their roles very well. Gambon in particular was great as a ruthless and villainous sort of character, quite different from other roles that he’s had.

For a debut, Matthew Vaughn did a great job, it doesn’t look like his first movie at all. It’s all filmed and edited very well, the music choices were also perfect, he’s got a real great handle over the whole movie.

Layer Cake is an outstanding directorial debut from Matthew Vaughn, a well written and directed crime thriller, with Daniel Craig’s great lead performance really making the movie. It’s an underrated little flick that definitely deserves a lot more praise and really worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Capone (2020) Review

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Capone

Time: 116 Minutes
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Fonse
Linda Cardellini as Mae
Matt Dillon as Johnny
Al Sapienza as Ralphie
Kathrine Narducci as Rosie
Noel Fisher as Junior
Director: Josh Trank

The 47-year old Al Capone (Tom Hardy), after 10 years in prison, starts suffering from dementia and comes to be haunted by his violent past.

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I was curious about Capone, it had been announced and made a while ago, and finally we get to see what it is. Fonzo (retitled to Capone for commercial purposes)) would be director Josh Trank’s next movie after Fant4stic, a movie that was infamously known for having a lot of studio interference. Trank had a lot to prove after that, and decided to set his sights on a movie about Al Capone in his last year of his life. With him having made like 1.5 movies, I was expecting something more conventional, but it turned out to be something quite different. The response to the movie has been rather mixed, but I’m glad to be on the side of people who liked it.

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There’s a lot of things that you need to know before watching Capone. First of all, despite the title, don’t expect a full on Al Capone movie. I heard that Josh Trank had issues with renaming Fonzo to Capone, and watching the movie I can see why. Along with the lead character generally being referred to as “Fonze” or “Fonzo” over the course of the movie, with the new title, it really gave the impression that this would be at the very least a straightforward biopic. It’s a biopic in the loosest sense of the word, as I said earlier it is about Capone’s last year of his life as he is suffering from dementia and syphilis, and that’s pretty much all that happens in that movie. There’s a subplot whereby Al Capone hid some money and forgot where it was, and another where the FBI is surveying him because the suspect that he might be faking his illness, but those are only small parts of the plot. For a movie that’s seemingly intended on being more psychological than a full on biopic, those aspects feels tact on, however I know that it was needed as that probably what happened in real life. Probably my biggest disappointment of the movie is that while it does have some unusual stuff, it does feel like it is consciously partly a biopic, and does at times seem to be going through the motions to meet that. Those previously mentioned subplots feel obligatory, as it’s pretty clear that Trank is a lot more interested in other aspects. Capone suffers from hallucinations, and storywise that interested me the most in the movie. There is a specific section around halfway through that was the highlight, as Capone goes through an extended nightmare/dream sequence that is something straight out of a haunted house movie like The Shining or something.

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Another thing that is worth noting is that it is a slow movie and not a lot happens, although I was still on board throughout (that first act does drag quite a bit however). It’s not particularly pleasant to watch either, the very few scenes of violence that are there are brutal, and you are basically watching the main character succumb to dementia further over the course of the film. So for those hoping for a straightforward biopic of Al Capone, there are no doubt other representations of him on the big screen that might better suit what you’re looking for. If you want to know more about him this certainly isn’t the movie for you. Now the question is what the point of the movie is. If it’s to watch a man who has done horrible things being haunted with such things while suffering from illnesses, then Trank succeeded in that, but otherwise I’m not really sure. What kept me on board for the whole thing was the directions that he decided to take the movie. If it was meant to be a character piece or something, I feel like it was missing something. We see him declining, and we see some visions of what happened while he was in his prime, but we don’t really learn anything about him at the same time. Nonetheless it was interesting to watch.

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The acting is generally quite good. The supporting cast is good with Jack Lowden, Noel Fisher and Kyle MacLachlan doing well in their smaller roles. Linda Cardellini and Matt Dillon were the standouts among the supporting cast. Dillon makes the most of his screentime as an associate of Capone, and Cardellini provides the closest thing to an emotional centre of the movie as Capone’s wife, which was needed considering who the protagonist of the whole movie is. However it is absolutely the Tom Hardy show, and he gives his most insane and crazy performance of his entire career as the title character, and that’s saying a lot considering he was in Bronson and Venom, I can certainly say it’s the most acting he’s done in a single performance. Before watching the movie, there was a couple of clips I saw before the movie that certainly gave me pause, he was unintentionally hilarious in them, and he’s kind of like that throughout much of the film. It works better when you watch the movie in its entirety. However it still takes you a while to settle in, especially with the makeup making him look like a demonic vampire and his voice sounding like a mix of Donald Duck, Nick Nolte, and Danny Devito’s The Penguin. Some of his outbursts still were unintentionally funny, but it worked better in the weird tone of the movie. Overall while I can say that I liked his performance, his over the top ‘acting’ moments didn’t work quite as well as the comparatively ‘quieter’ moments for me. He is definitely putting everything into this performance (for better and for worse) and was one of the stand out parts of the film.

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I already knew this from his work on Chronicle, but Josh Trank has shown himself to be a capable director. It’s shot and filmed well generally, but for the most part the technical side is just competent and nothing special. Interestingly, the editing is done by Trank of all people, no doubt wanting to ensure that he wouldn’t be caught in another Fant4stic situation. With that said, it is a little disjointed, and while I get that part of it was purposeful with this being from the perspective of a man slowly losing sense of everything, I’m not sure that was necessarily intentional all the way through. Where the film shines is when it leant into the weirdness, mainly with the hallucinations and dream sequences. The aforementioned dream scene halfway into the movie was a shining aspect, and had Trank committed to more of those sorts of scenes, I think that it could’ve been better.

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Capone won’t work for all people, in fact it won’t work for most people. There are aspects that are unpolished and messy, it might be too gross and gnarly for some people, and I don’t think it quite sticks the landing in what Josh Trank intended. However, despite its flaws I think the movie is decent. The acting is good, with the performance from Tom Hardy being a highlight, and I liked the places that it was taken. As weird as the movie got at points, I kind of wish it went further, as those were definitely the best parts of the movie. What this shows is that Trank has a talent and a vision, and Chronicle wasn’t a fluke. I’d love to see what he does next, especially if he’s not tied down with adapting anything this time.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Review

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Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Gary Oldman as George Smiley (“Beggarman”)
Colin Firth as Bill Haydon (“Tailor”)
Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr
Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux
Ciarán Hinds as Roy Bland (“Soldier”)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam
David Dencik as Toby Esterhase (“Poorman”)
Stephen Graham as Jerry Westerby
Simon McBurney as Oliver Lacon
Toby Jones as Percy Alleline (“Tinker”)
John Hurt as Control
Director: Tomas Alfredson

A retired spy, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is summoned by the Government to investigate a furtive case. With a secret Soviet agent assumed to be working within their system, will George be able to unveil his identity?

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I remember watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy many years ago, and it’s always been one of those movies I’ve been meaning to rewatch for some time. I remember finding it to be a good movie, but it was really slow and I didn’t understand completely everything that was going on, it was a really complicated movie. I finally saw it a second time, and I got all the acclaim this time round, it’s a very well made movie, even though I can understand why it might not work for some people.

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For those who don’t know much about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, although it’s classed as a spy movie, this isn’t the James Bond or Jason Bourne kind of spy movie. It’s an investigative and truly espionage spy movie, with complex and shifty characters in a morally grey and bleak world. There aren’t many gunshots, and there isn’t anything even close to resembling action scenes. It’s also a very slowly paced movie, and this will definitely turn off a lot of people, I will admit that there were moments where it got a little too slow for my liking. It’s more than just that it’s a slow paced movie, it’s really complicated too, and maybe even hard to follow at times. You really have to pay close attention to from start to finish, otherwise you’ll probably miss some vital details. It’s not so much that it’s bad at crafting the story for the big screen, in fact I heard that it was well done considering the source material was apparently extremely hard to follow as it was. There are just a lot of moving parts, plotlines and characters that you have to pay attention to. Even having known much of the plot from the last viewing, after my second viewing I still had to look up a couple of things about the plot to clarify a few things I wasn’t certain about. As I was, I was invested in what was going on, even if it dragged in parts and I was lost in moments. The writing is quite strong, and the dialogue quite layered, with intimate character moments and subtext carefully placed throughout. Now having quite a good understanding of what happened, I think I’ll get this movie even more on a further 3rd viewing.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has such a great ensemble cast, and all of them worked well together. Gary Oldman plays the lead character of George Smiley, and he absolutely transforms into the role. Smiley is calm and collected, yet captivating in every scene. He’s quite effectively subtle, conveying so much without having to say much. The rest of the cast are at the top of their game, with Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds and John Hurt all giving great performances. The highlights out of all of them for me were Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy doing so much in their screentime.

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Tomas Alfredson directed this movie quite well, he really set it well in the time period of the Cold War. The cinematography was by Hoyte Van Hotema, who shot the movie very well. It’s a very grey looking movie, yet it somehow still manages to be visually stunning and stylish. Tomas also does well at building up an effective atmosphere. The score by Alberto Iglesias is also great and fits the movie quite a bit.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re expecting a fast paced movie, it might even test the most patient of viewers. From the second viewing however, I found it to be a complex, deeply layered story, directed very well and features outstanding performances from its ensemble cast. I liked it a lot more on a second viewing, and I think that I will like it even more the more I come back to it.

Warrior (2011) Review

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Warrior

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Tommy Riordan Conlon
Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon
Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon
Jennifer Morrison as Tess Conlon
Frank Grillo as Frank Campana
Director: Gavin O’Connor

The youngest son (Tom Hardy) of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father (Nick Nolte) for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother (Joel Edgerton).

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I saw Warrior for the first time a while ago, I remembered the general plot, and I remember liking it but that’s it. I’ve been meaning to it rewatch it for some time, and having watched a lot of other Tom Hardy movies recently, it was the best time for me to watch it again. I’m glad I did, I like it even more than I did the first time, an emotional drama that you can easily get invested in.

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Despite MMA playing a key part of the movie, at its core, Warrior is a drama about family. Yes, there’s a number of familiar sporting tropes, you get the montages, you get some moments that could be argued as a little cheesy, but if you’re as invested in the story and characters as I was, that won’t even matter. The only sports movie trope that it really could’ve gone without was the typical big unstoppable Russian opponent, who’s also literally called Koba. On top of his existence in the story being kind of silly and out of place, he ultimately doesn’t have that much of a significant part in the story, and could’ve been swapped out with any powerful fighter and avoided the rather dated trope. The plot isn’t exactly unpredictable, especially if you’ve seen other stories like this, and even other sports movies, but it is handled so well. Warrior from the beginning establishes itself as a sincere and honest movie with its characters clearly being the main focus. Despite the familiarity of the story, it does feel real, and the well written script played a part in that too. It’s 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but I was quite into the story and it didn’t even feel that long to be honest.

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The acting is one of the best parts of the movie. The main two leads are Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, and both are really great in their roles. They are convincing as brothers, and they were also convincing in the fighting scenes. Hardy gives a typically great performance as this damaged character with issues, conveying his single mindedness in and out of the ring. Edgerton gives some of his best work as his character, very genuine, authentic, and easy to root for. It’s not just those two however, Nick Nolte gives an intensely emotional performance that has rightfully been receiving acclaim. This has to be the best performance I’ve seen from Nolte, here playing the father of both Hardy and Edgerton’s characters, who was a former alcoholic and had a lot of regrets. The dynamic between each of the three actors are strong and believable, and there’s a lot of tension between them. Also good in supporting roles is Jennifer Morrison as Edgerton’s wife, and Frank Grillo as Edgerton’s coach.

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Gavin O’Connor directed this movie very well, handling both the drama and fighting aspects of the film strongly. Despite them not being the main focus or even the highlights of the film, O’Connor does really well to get the audience really engaged and invested in the fight scenes, even those who aren’t really interested in MMA. The fights also feel very believable, and you really feel the impact of every blow.

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Warrior is a really good movie, emotional, entertaining, and all around great, far better than it appears to be at first. You don’t have to be a fan of MMA or other fighting sports to get into the movie, while those fight scenes are very strong, the rest of the movie works as a drama first and foremost, and is just so excellently written, directed and overall well made that there’s something for everyone in it. I thought it was great, and even if you don’t think you’ll like it, I definitely think you should give it a chance when you can.

Taboo Season 1 (2017) Review

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Taboo Season 1

Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast:
Tom Hardy as James Keziah Delaney
Leo Bill as Benjamin Wilton
Jessie Buckley as Lorna Delaney
Oona Chaplin as Zilpha Geary
Stephen Graham as Atticus
Jefferson Hall as Thorne Geary
David Hayman as Brace
Edward Hogg as Michael Godfrey
Franka Potente as Helga von Hinten
Michael Kelly as Edgar Dumbarton
Tom Hollander as Dr George Cholmondeley
Marina Hands as Countess Musgrove
Jonathan Pryce as Sir Stuart Strange
Jason Watkins as Solomon Coop
Nicholas Woodeson as Robert Thoyt
Creator: Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy

James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) returns to 1814 London after 10 years in Africa to discover that he has been left a mysterious legacy by his father. Driven to wage war on those who have wronged him, Delaney finds himself in a fact-off against the East India Company, whilst playing a dangerous game between two warring nations, Britain and America.

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I knew about Taboo for some years, I just knew it as some period tv show with Tom Hardy in the lead role, that’s it though. Having watched a number of Hardy’s movies recently however, I thought that it would be the best time to Taboo’s first and currently only season. I eventually got around to it and I’m glad I did. Taboo may have its fair share of issues, but I really liked what I saw from this season.

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One of the biggest comparisons that has been made with this show was to Peaky Blinders, a show that Steven Knight also wrote and created. Both are period crime dramas that star Tom Hardy, but make no mistake, they are very different shows. While Peaky Blinders had its slower moments, it was much more entertaining, flashy and fast placed. Taboo is much more of a slow burn, and that’s probably the main thing that will turn some people off the show. If you intend on watching through all of Taboo going in, I highly recommend watching multiple episodes in each sitting. If you say only watch one episode a day, it more than likely feel like a drag to get through it all. I watched about 2-3 episodes a day and that worked for me. I won’t deny that it was quite slow to begin with, but the further you get into it, the more invested you become and the better it becomes. The second half in particular is better, with the last two episodes standing out the most. While the pacing doesn’t necessarily pick up, the plotlines become more interesting, it’s just that to begin with you’re not as into it just yet. There are 8 episodes in the first season of Taboo, each being an hour long, and I thought that was about the right length for this season. This show also is a little weird, mainly is that there is an element of magic when it comes to Tom Hardy’s character that’s quite present throughout the show, and he even has some visions at times. It doesn’t bother me particularly, but I thought it was worth pointing out, especially with such a gritty show like this that it’s a little stranger than it initially looks.

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Tom Hardy is front and centre for the vast majority, and Taboo is very much his show, in fact he’s the main reason most people even checked this show out. Hardy is reliant as an actor, and his work in this show is no exception. As protagonist James Delaney, Hardy has immense screen presence. Sure Delaney is yet another broody TV anti hero, cunning, ruthless and with a lot of issues, but he works exceptionally well for this show, mainly because of Tom Hardy’s work, especially with the fact that he actually is one of the creators of the show alongside his father and Steven Knight. While Hardy is fantastic as usual, the supporting cast deserve to be noted as well, even if some get more chances to shine than others. Among the highlights were Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, Tom Hollander and Jonathan Pryce. Additionally, you have Stephen Graham and Mark Gattis who also work in their roles. The only character I thought was a little mishandled was that of James’s half-sister/lover played by Oona Chaplin, whose story arc was a little half baked and felt like a weak link compared to the rest of the storylines.

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Taboo is directed very well, with the first half by Kristoffer Nyholm and the second half by Anders Engstrom. The period of the 1810s is very well portrayed, from the costumes, the production design, all of it works, also excellently showcased through the cinematography by Mark Patten. Much of the show looks very muddy, grimy and dirty, and that perfectly is in line with the tone of the show. The show doesn’t feature that many scenes of violence (at least compared to the likes of Peaky Blinders), but the violence that occurs can be very brutal and gruesome, so it’s not really a show for the faint of heart. One other technical aspect of the show that is well worth noting is the great score by Max Richter, his themes really added a lot to the show and made already good scenes significantly better. It’s not surprising given that Richter is a really good composer, but this probably ranks among my favourite works of his.

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Taboo isn’t a show for everyone, it is slow, it is gruesome, it gets weird, it takes a while to really come into its own, and not everyone can really get into it. However, if you like dark movies/shows, or even if you just like Tom Hardy, I reckon that it’s worth checking out, at least watch the first 4 episodes. I have no idea whether Taboo is getting another season (with Steven Knight intending this to be a 3 season long series), apparently it is happening but for whatever reason it’s taking a very long time for it to release. As someone who liked the first season, I really want to see it happen. From the point that season 1 ended, it feels like the story of the show has only just started and I want to see where Knight is intending to take this story.

Bronson (2009) Review

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Bronson

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Michael Gordon Peterson/Charles Bronson
Matt King as Paul Daniels
James Lance as Phil Danielson
Amanda Burton as Charlie’s mother
Kelly Adams as Irene Peterson
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

In this drama based on a true story, there’s no one tougher or more brutal in the English penal system than prisoner Michael Peterson, aka Charles Bronson (Tom Hardy). First incarcerated after robbing a jewellery store, the married Bronson is sentenced to seven years. But his incorrigible, savage behaviour quickly gets him in trouble with guards, fellow inmates and even a dog. The only place where Bronson can’t do any harm is in solitary confinement, where he spends most of his time.

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I remember when I was going to watch Bronson for the first time. I liked director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, and I really liked Tom Hardy as an actor, and it runs out I liked Bronson too. It is for sure one of Refn’s more ‘accessible’ movies (at least when compared to the likes of some of his other movies like Only God Forgives). Having seen it for a second time, I probably like it even more now, a truly bizarre movie in the best possible way, directed greatly and with one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen at the front and centre of this film.

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Bronson is quite the unconventional biopic, its subject is Michael Peterson, also known as Charles Bronson, who is often called the most violent prisoner in Britain. However, Refn’s take on the story isn’t straightforward or what you’d initially expect. First of all, it doesn’t even remotely attempt to paint a sympathetic picture of the character/person, and much of the storytelling is from Bronson’s perspective. In the first 5-10 minutes you pretty early on get a sense as to what kind of movie it is. There are some moments where we get to see Bronson’s more vulnerable side, mainly in the second act. At the same time however, it doesn’t try to explain Charles Bronson, rather letting the audience make up their own answers for him. Bronson is greatly written too, quite entertaining, and even has a fair share of dark comedy in there too. Much of the movie reminds me of A Clockwork Orange, from the style to some of the way certain scenes were handled. As far as issues go, there are some pacing issues towards the second act. Without giving too much away, it’s not quite as outrageous or filled with violence as the first act, but in general you really feel it slow down suddenly, and even some of the energy died down noticeably. Now I still liked the second act and there’s a good reason why the pacing was that slow considering that part of the story, but it’s worth pointing out nonetheless. Bronson is about an hour and 30 minutes long, and that was about the right length for this movie.

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This movie surrounds the character/real life person of Charles Bronson (the criminal, not the actor of course), and so much of the film heavily relies on the actor playing the titular role. Tom Hardy (who wasn’t such a big name just yet back in 2008) did such a fantastic job in the role. This could very well be Hardy’s career best performance, and knowing much of the work he’s done, that’s saying a lot. He’s full of energy, he has the physicality, he’s charismatic, he’s scary, and has such a powerful screen presence that carries much of the movie. He’s incredibly electric and a force of nature in this, you definitely don’t see Hardy at all in this role, moustache aside. Surprisingly, he also portrays Bronson’s emotional side very convincingly too, painting a picture of a man that’s a little more than just violent and insane (even if it’s not neatly laid out what kind of person he is). He really does capture this real life person incredibly well. The rest of the actors in the supporting cast do play their part well, but it is the Tom Hardy show.

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Nicolas Winding Refn’s direction is nothing short of exceptional, much of how he told the story is why this movie works so well. It’s an absolutely stunning looking movie from beginning to end, and unsurprising considering this is Refn, especially when it came to the use of colour. It’s not just the cinematography aspect of the direction that’s great, a conventional biopic it is not. The mix of narration and fourth wall breaks from Hardy’s Bronson works perfectly. In much of the movie he’s talking and performing to a stage audience (mostly shown in the first act). That sort of dies down a bit after the first act, but it nonetheless makes quite the impression. The music choices worked very well for the movie too.

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Bronson is an entertaining and unconventional ‘biopic’, wonderfully directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, but its backbone is Tom Hardy as the titular character, who is absolutely tremendous in the role. I’m not sure that it is for everyone, but I thought it was great. Hardy’s performance alone makes it a must see.

The Drop (2014) Review

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The Drop

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowski
Noomi Rapace as Nadia Dunn
James Gandolfini as Marvin “Cousin Marv” Stipler
Matthias Schoenaerts as Eric Deeds
Director: Michaël R. Roskam

Follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funnelling cash to local gangsters – “money drops” – in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living – no matter the cost.

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I remember I once saw The Drop many years ago, and I remembered liking it back then. I didn’t remember much of it however, so I had been meaning to see it again. Watching it again I liked it even more, a gritty crime drama, well paced, written and directed, with a solid cast, that is rather underrated.

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The Drop is based off a Dennis Lehane short story called Animal Rescue, and he actually adapted his own novel for the big screen, to some great results. It’s a good story and script, with some very naturalistic and well written dialogue. Make no mistake, this is a character driven story. Despite it being a crime movie, it’s not really a thriller, it’s actually a bit of a slow burn but I don’t mean that in a bad way by any means. I was personally invested from beginning to end, but just so you know it’s not a very active movie, moving at a calm pace. There happens to be some storylines and aspects related to crime but it’s about characters first and foremost. There aren’t many moments of violence but when they are present, they’re quite sudden and shocking, and pack the punches that the movie intends them to be. The Drop is an hour and 45 minutes or so long, and that was about the right length of the movie. With it being a slow paced drama you’d think that it would be rushed or something, but ultimately it’s a tightly written movie with a well handled story overall.

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The cast are among the best part of The Drop, each of them were great in their respective roles. Tom Hardy gives quite possibly his most subtle performance of his career as a soft spoken bartender named Bob. I won’t reveal too much of the movie but for at least most of the movie, he’s very unassuming, simple and naïve, and he absolutely works wonders in this role. Hardy manages to convey so much with just his facial expressions and eyes it’s incredible. Also, if you just want to see a movie where Tom Hardy is taking care of a dog for under a couple of hours then The Drop is right up your alley. The supporting cast are all good too. Noomi Rapace was good in her part too, and she and Hardy shared convincing chemistry (although she was slightly underused). Notably, The Drop is the last performance from James Gandolfini before his untimely death, and he was really great in his final role. A naturalistic performance with a lot of presence, he too works especially well in the scenes with Hardy. Matthias Schoenaerts is also in a supporting role as someone who threatens Tom Hardy’s character, Schoenaerts’s character is really meant to be a minor antagonist towards Bob and as that works as an easy person to dislike.

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This is the only film I’ve seen from Michael R. Roskam, and he actually directed this movie quite well. The Drop has got quite a great look to it throughout, especially the use of colour. The score by Marco Beltrami is also really good.

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I’ve noticed that The Drop has been overlooked quite a bit, and really deserves a lot more attention than it has been receiving. It’s not a particularly fast paced movie, but instead it’s a slow burn and investing drama, with a well written story, topped off with great performances from Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini. It’s really worth a watch whenever you get a chance.

Lawless (2012) Review

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Lawless

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence
Cast:
Shia LaBeouf as Jack Bondurant
Tom Hardy as Forrest Bondurant
Jessica Chastain as Maggie Beauford
Gary Oldman as Floyd Banner
Jason Clarke as Howard Bondurant
Guy Pearce as Special Deputy Charley Rakes
Mia Wasikowska as Bertha Minnix
Dane DeHaan as Cricket Pate
Director: John Hillcoat

In 1931, the Bondurant brothers of Franklin County, Va., run a multipurpose backwoods establishment that hides their true business, bootlegging. Middle brother Forrest (Tom Hardy) is the brain of the operation; older Howard (Jason Clarke) is the brawn, and younger Jack (Shia LaBeouf), the lookout. Though the local police have taken bribes and left the brothers alone, a violent war erupts when a sadistic lawman (Guy Pearce) from Chicago arrives and tries to shut down the Bondurants’ operation.

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I remember watching Lawless a long time ago, and although I didn’t remember it being particularly great, I remember thinking it was at least pretty good. Since I was watching/re-watching other Tom Hardy movies, I thought I’d give this one another go, and my opinion of it is around the same. There’s not much that’s particularly wrong with the movie, in fact there’s a lot of good things about it, from the direction to the cast. I’m just not quite sure that I can call it great, but I still think that it is pretty good.

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Lawless isn’t a fast paced thriller by any means, it’s a slow burn gritty drama, and I personally liked it for that. There are certainly signs of greatness, it’s just that there’s just something missing from it. The story is actually rather straightforward and wasn’t anything special for a crime drama. I think it felt just a little too conventional, accessible and neatly packaged. They could’ve done a little more with the story and gone too some more interesting places, Lawless doesn’t really do anything that we haven’t seen done many times before and done better. With that being said, for what it was I was quite entertained for its 2 hour runtime, but it could’ve been a little better.

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The cast all around great and are among the best parts of Lawless, although some of the characters could’ve used some more development. This is mainly Shia LaBeouf’s movie, and he’s quite good in his role as the younger brother who isn’t quite as experienced as his older brothers. Tom Hardy is great in everything he’s in, and his performance in Lawless as the leader of the Bondurant brothers is no exception. He doesn’t say a lot (you just hear him grunting most of the time), but he has a lot of screen presence nonetheless, and was effective whenever he’s on screen. This is also probably one of the best performances I’ve seen from Jason Clarke as the oldest of the brothers. Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska provide some good performances, elevating their rather underdeveloped and uninteresting roles with their acting. Gary Oldman is indeed in this movie as a notable gangster, but really they could’ve gotten any actor in the role, he’s only in a few scenes. Don’t get me wrong, Oldman owns every scene he has in the movie, but he takes up such a small portion of the film and wasn’t that central to the plot that it kind of felt like overkill having an actor of his calibre for the role. One of the performances that stood out the most from this movie was that of Guy Pearce as the villain of the film. He’s effectively creepy, slimy and unnerving in this role as a Special Deputy Marshall brought in to go after bootleggers, and especially the main characters of the story. There’s not a whole lot to the character, but Pearce from his appearance to his performance makes Charley Rakes an easy character to hate. It’s quite an over the top and almost cartoonish character and performance but it kind of works for this movie.

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Lawless was really well directed by John Hillcoat. It’s a great looking movie, and Hillcoat certainly got the period setting right at least on a technical level, with the locations, the costumes and production design. Also, when it comes to the violence (even though there isn’t a massive amount of it), it’s brutal and hard hitting.

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Lawless unfortunately doesn’t quite reach the levels of greatness that it’s clearly aspiring to reach, but it’s a solid movie nonetheless. It was directed exceptionally well, and has a relatively decent story that at least kept me entertained for the runtime. Top that off with a great cast, and Lawless is a movie that’s worth a watch if you like those actors or even just decent crime dramas.

Stuart: A Life Backwards (2007) Review

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Stuart A Life Backwards

Time: 92 Minutes
Cast:
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alexander Masters
Tom Hardy as Stuart Shorter
Director: David Attwood

Stuart (Tom Hardy) is a homeless alcoholic who leads a complicated life because of the disturbing memories of his troubled childhood. His writer friend (Benedict Cumberbatch) chronicles his life and tries to recount every aspect of it.

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I only found out about this movie more recently, the main thing I heard was that Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy were in it, with the latter giving a particularly fantastic performance. I also knew it was a tv movie, and I really didn’t expect much from it (didn’t really know what to expect honestly). Stuart: A Life Backwards was actually better than what I expected, an emotionally honest film, with an outstanding lead performance.

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Stuart: A Life Backwards is based off the biography of the same name. While the story takes place in chronological order, we learn about Stuart’s past in reverse order, like the title of the story implies (and how it was told in the book). This makes for a rather interesting watch as we learn about this man’s life, and what put him in the position that he was in present day. Without getting too deep into it here, A Life Backwards doesn’t shy away from everything that happened with Stuart and the things he does and went through, but the best compliment I can give is that it’s remarkably honest. There is a fair amount of humour thrown in (especially with some interactions between the main two leads), but it is emotionally impactful at the same time. The movie is around 90 minutes long, and the pacing is a little uneven. It drags at points and sometimes feels rushed in others, however I was still rather invested.

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This movie is mainly focussed on its two lead actors, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch, and both really work in their respective roles. I’ll start with Cumberbatch, who is more the audience surrogate, as he’s playing the author of the biography that the movie is based on. The movie focuses on his interactions with Stuart. We don’t really get to learn about his role of real life person Alexander Masters, and he’s definitely not the main focus of the story, but Cumberbatch still manages to act very well (in a comparatively more subtle way than his co-lead) and also deserves some praise for his own. However, it’s of course Tom Hardy who stands out among everything in this film, giving such an emotionally raw performance and steals every scene he’s in. This might well be his most difficult performance, but it pulled it off excellently. This is some of his best acting, and knowing his long list of great performances, that’s saying a lot. The chemistry between Hardy and Cumberbatch is great and believable, with the friendship between the two driving the movie essentially. It is also nice on another level watching them, especially knowing how known they are as actors now.

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Now Stuart: A Life Backwards is very much a tv movie, it doesn’t have a very big budget, and you feel that throughout. However, it still does some effective things with the direction by David Attwood, not to mention it just feels right for this specific movie. There are some brief moments of animation that may seem out of place, but I think worked well enough for the unconventional style and subject of the story.

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Stuart: A Life Backwards won’t be known by most people, but I really do think it’s worth watching. It’s a pretty good movie by itself, the story is handled with care and told as it should. However, it’s Hardy’s performance which brings it to a whole other level, making it pretty much essential viewing. It might be hard to gain access to a copy of A Life Backwards, but definitely watch it when you get a chance, it’s well worth it.