I’m back! After two weeks in China, I can start telling you about movies again.
On the plane I watched the two most recent Tom Hardy films and then I watched the one previous to those yesterday. They’re pretty fantastic and all quite different. It’s been interesting watching Tom Hardy over the years. I sort of discovered him accidentally and didn’t think much of him until I saw Bronson, which is brilliant.
Since then, each of his films have showed very different sides of his abilities. He’s like a chameleon in a way that I thought only Gary Oldman had previously pulled off [seriously, Gary Oldman could star in a film where he plays ten different parts–like an Eddie Murphy movie–and no one would be able to tell they’re all him].
So let’s just talk briefly about all three of these.
This is the worst of the Tom Hardy films I watched over the last couple of days. I mean, it’s a solid film and Tom Hardy is amazing in it, but it’s not really my thing, which is odd because I’ve loved everything I’ve ever seen John Hillcoat do. Maybe it’s because films about hard men being hard don’t really do it for me.
Everything’s gritty and dark and coated in a light sheen of violence. But Hardy, though a towering force in the film, isn’t really the star. This is mostly a Shia LaBeouf, which is fine because I kind of like him. But the whole film is kind of like an octopus trying to reach in a lot of different directions, but it manages to not say a whole lot about any of them.
The atmosphere and texture of the film are amazing, the kind of thing that deserve a better story. So much of this film is done right, but it just doesn’t manage to tell a great story, despite its best efforts. Tom Hardy’s character is kind of a mythic man of violence and cunning.
And that’s what’s cool about Hardy. He inhabits this. He becomes that larger than life person. His drawl and easy manner when he unleashes hell on those who oppose him.
It’s worth watching, yeah. If only for Hardy, the atmosphere, the feel, and the grit.
This film is brilliant. There are very few films that can work in this claustrophobic manner. Ryan Reynolds did a great job with Buried, but I can’t think of many other films that can work with such a close focus. the only action in both films mostly come from phone calls.
And Tom Hardy, once again, is transformed as Ivan Locke.
It’s worth knowing that Tom Hardy is from London. That’s worth knowing only because of how he creates a voice for each character he does. Think of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises or how he becomes Bronson or how different his voice in Lawless is as compared to Locke and the next film we discuss, The Drop.
Ivan Locke has a very deliberate diction and voice. His accent is British, but it’s touched by foreignness. Maybe Polish or Russian? It doesn’t really matter, but it feels to me–and maybe I’m wrong–that Ivan Locke is a first generation immigrant. This is something never said in the film and it’s probably not important to understanding the film, but his voice carries a bit of that sound in it, which gives history and depth into his character that’s never overt in the film.
Essentially, the film is about Ivan Locke on the worst day of his life as he drives from his north England home to a London hospital. Why he’s on this drive is the entire focus of the film so I won’t give it away. Not that you don’t discover it relatively early in the film, but it’s the kind of journey that works best if you live inside it and follow its path with fresh eyes.
It’s a shockingly tense film, considering all he’s doing is driving his car and talking on the phone. He discusses his job and his personal relationships, while also occasionally talking to the ghosts that haunt his life.
And if that sounds boring, it should. Because in just about any other film this would be the most boring setup imaginable.
Hardy carries the film. Which is odd because his character, Ivan Locke, is extremely reserved and controlled. He keeps so much of his personality and demeanor under tight control that it makes his infrequent outbursts rip through you.
No, this is a masterful film and Hardy just controls every moment of the film. His voice, his calm collected manner, and the fire raging within him.
An absolute must see that will be so much better if you watch it in a close, dark room, preferably by yourself or with a few friends. It’s not the kind of film where distractions can be tolerated and it’ll help you get into the claustrophobic nature of the action.
The Drop, 2014
Written by Dennis Lehane, this film is almost too intense. Like, I was shaking while watching this.
But Tom Hardy, once again, is drastically different. Here he’s a Brooklyn nobody, which means he has a whole new voice and a whole new demeanor. He’s quiet and unassuming. He’s simple.
This is actually what makes this such an incredible film. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film about a person who really has no obvious outstanding characteristics. In fact, I can’t think of a film I’ve seen about a person who’s sort of just a simple idiot. He’s not mentally challenged in any way. He’s just a simple person.
He actually reminds me of some of the kids I went to high school with.
Simple. No strong personality quirks. He’s the kind of person who could slip into the background of your life and you’d forget completely about him. He’s kind and stupid and barely there. He seems sometimes helpless in this way.
He strikes up an almost romantic relationship with Noomi Rapace after discovering a puppy that’s been beating and tossed into a trashcan outside her house.
Yeah, this is a brutal film.
Oh, also, the reason it’s called The Drop has to do with Chechen crimelords who launder money through bars they own. They causally inflict serious violence upon those who get in their way and then force people like Hardy and Gandolfini to stare at the carnage.
The casual violence is actually pretty infrequent, but it causes everything to be textured by this violence. The film is incredibly tense! I wasn’t joking earlier when I said that the film literally made my body shake.
I picked up a glass of water to drink and almost spilled it because of how unsteady my hand was. And a lot of that tension is caused by mundane things. A car driving past one of the characters feels menacing and terrifying. You’re on the edge of your seat, expecting a gun to be drawn and blood to fill the air, but the car just keeps driving.
I won’t discuss the ways this film twists and turns but it’s pretty shocking and Hardy’s character is such a unique element in film. He’s passive and gentle and simple and the way he reacts to the world around him is brilliant to behold.
So I won’t discuss what happens in the film beyond these vague details, but this is something you need to watch.
And that’s Tom Hardy. He’s always different. He’s always amazing.
Every film gives us a new version of who he can be and it makes him essential viewing. He’s an actor to be watched and followed, because there are few like him.