And here we are at the end of another year of cinema. The debate rages on whether to include 2014 Oscar runners in the ‘Best of’ lists as really they are 2013 pictures with late UK releases. Alas I will go by the calendar year so here are my favourites! Click the images for my reviews.
On the back of his latest portrayal in The Drop, proving himself yet again as one of the greatest actors of his generation, I remember my top five Tom Hardy performances. Click the images to see the trailers!
In Stephen Knight’s car drama Locke, there is only one actor on-screen throughout the whole film. When that actor is Tom Hardy though, it doesn’t matter. He went on to work with Knight again in BBC gangster series Peaky Blinders as the terrifyingly brilliant Alfie Solomons.
Based on a novel by crime writer Martina Cole, the Sky series helped spring-board Tom Hardy to the maniacal film roles he has become known for. This was the first time I witnessed his work and I instantly became a fan.
3. The Dark Knight Rises
In a mainstream turn, Tom Hardy took the part of Bane in his stride. His crazed eyes and unique voice as the Batman villain probably makes this his most iconic performance to date.
2. The Drop
In The Drop, directed by Michaël R. Roskam, he plays bartender Bob Saginowski in a subtle, measured performance. Alongside the late great James Gandolfini, the film showcases the art of acting at the highest level.
Tom Hardy has had his fair share of psychopathic characters to get his teeth into but none more nuttier than notorious prisoner Charles Bronson. Directed by the auteur filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, the film is a whirlwind and Hardy is at the core.
Notable omissions include Inception, Lawless and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Tom Hardy is soon to star in a Mad Max reboot, a Kray twins biopic where he will play not one but both brothers, and is also in talks to play Elton John. Diverse!
The concept of Steven Knight’s British thriller Locke should, by all rights, fall flat with its single-minded approach to simply film a man driving from Birmingham to London and not a lot else. But when that man is Tom Hardy, it becomes very much worth a watch. Portraying the eponymous construction worker Ivan Locke, the weight of his performance elevates the simplistic plot further than you could imagine. Locke is a complicated yet loyal individual and when a colossal mistake puts his happiness in jeopardy, he sets forth to do all that he can to right his wrong. This makes for a fascinating character study and Knight’s direction illustrates and illuminates the story spectacularly, maintaining a consistently visually interesting style throughout, despite the limited space.
To centre the entirety of the narrative solely around one character is a brave inspired move, and the complexities of Locke and his troubles hold the film tightly together. His account slowly builds, revealing itself and exposing his flaws gradually, providing a range of intensity, sorrow and unexpected dashes of humour. The script is nearly always delivered through Ivan’s car phone. That’s when he’s not speaking to his late father through his rear-view mirror. His conversations with his wife, children and colleagues flow surprisingly well, providing the structure of the film and developing personalities and relationships that are only seen through one face and his range of expressions.
His passion and dedication towards his work comes through enormously as he gives in-depth meticulous instructions of the detailed processes involved in laying foundations. He was on the cusp of a highly lucrative concrete pour and cement has never sounded more interesting. With the dark and somewhat confined environment of a BMW, Knight and his cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos creatively construct a gripping ambience with taut close-ups and nice transition editing, letting the city lights decorate the screen. The aesthetics are helped along by an atmospheric almost otherworldly score providing a steady rhythm which stops at an abrupt but well judged conclusion.
Hardy is disguised in rather old-fashioned attire of a thick woolly jumper and sports a bushy unkempt beard but his acting talent is far from hidden. As thick and unusual as his jersey is his rich South Wales accent that I could listen to for hours as he tumbles through a series of emotions. We quite literally go on a journey with Ivan Locke, and Hardy makes us empathise with him despite his faults. It’s his most humane performance of his career, and arguably best. His voice acting supporting cast are great at getting a real sense of identity down the line. Olivia Colman is strong as she always is as Bethan, and Andrew Scott is entertaining as Ivan’s downtrodden Irish co-worker Donal who is handed a burden of responsibility in his absence.
Locke is an ambitious, inventive project which could mark the beginning of a dynamic working relationship between Midlands filmmaker Steven and leading man Tom Hardy, with reported television projects in the pipeline. The bar is raised exceptionally high for future works as this is a solid achievement on so many levels. The film assuredly treads the line between family drama and psychological thriller and the art house elements give palpable energy to the inside of the car, culminating in an unnerving but enjoyable ninety minutes. On top of and as well as that, Tom Hardy is on subtle yet spectacular form.