Tag Archives: Tom Hardy

Where The Wild Things Are

Leo DiCaprio is an unstoppable force of nature in ‘The Revenant’

The Revenant

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Domnhall Gleason

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

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Had a tough week? Well, chances are your tales of woe won’t stack up very high against Hugh Glass, the 19th century American frontiersman portrayed by Leo DiCaprio in The Reverent. In the course of this rip-roaring winter wilderness tale, Glass is mauled by a grizzly bear, buried alive, attacked by Indians, swept into the rapids of a freezing river and chased—atop his galloping horse—off a high cliff.

“I ain’t afraid to die anymore,” he says at one point. “I done it already.”

Glass eats birds, raw fish, bison guts and moose marrow, and de-bowels an animal carcass to crawl inside, naked, for a cold night’s sleep.

DiCaprio’s already received a 2016 Golden Globe award and a Critics’ Choice acting prize for his visceral, punishingly physical performance, and The Revenant took other top Golden Globes for its director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and for best motion picture drama. Now it’s headed for the Oscars in late February, and buzz is building about how this year and this movie could be the one to finally net Leo his first Academy Award.

Based on a 2002 novel by Michael Punke, The Revenant is a gritty, brutal tale of tragedy, betrayal, survival, endurance, violence and vengeance. (Its title means someone who has returned, especially from the dead.) It begins as Glass, an experienced wilderness guide, and the hunting expedition he’s been hired to lead are ambushed by Arikara Indians somewhere near what is modern-day South Dakota. In a magnificent, sweeping sequence that’s like Saving Private Ryan only with bows and arrows, most of the party is mowed down in mud by a river; Glass and several others escape, including his young, half-Indian son.

Tom Hardy (right) and Will Poulter

And troubles are just beginning—especially for Glass. In one of the film’s most harrowing sequences, a bear mauls him almost to death when he comes between her and her cubs. He gets no sympathy from the vicious, greedy Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who considers Glass dead weight and thinks they’d all be better off if he was put out of his misery.

Fitzgerald also doesn’t care very much, either, for Glass’ son, whose mother—Glass’ Pawnee wife—was killed in a raid by American cavalrymen.

Fitzgerald’s dastardly deed sets the rest of the movie in motion, and director Iñárritu—who last year won acclaim and awards for Birdman—makes the stark, inhospitable desolation of the frontier (much of the filming was done in Alberta, British Columbia) look stunning, lyrical and often beautiful as Glass claws his way back to “civilization,” like an unstoppable force of nature, seeking the man who robbed him of the only thing he had left.

This is a raw, richly elemental movie. The screen swells with earth, air, sky and water. You don’t just watch it, you feel it—the cold, the wet, the pain, and the primal emotions that drive the characters. At times you almost lose DiCaprio beneath his gnarly beard and matted hair, and there are long stretches where the only sounds are grunts, growls, whoops or howls. Trees figure prominently into symbolism and hallucinogenic dream sequences. There’s a strong underlying message about America’s indigenous peoples, their mistreatment and the exploitation of America’s resources.

It’s strong stuff, and won’t be everyone’s cup of frontier stew. But if you’d like a reminder of just how “wild” the western wilderness really was—just how much will, resources and resolve it took to survive in it—The Revenant serves up a spectacularly jarring, frequently jolting dose.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Max is Back!

Explosively revved-up reboot is big, brash, brutal & beautiful

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Mad Max: Fury Road

Starring Tom Hardy & Charlize Theron

Directed by George Miller

R

If Australian director George Miller never did anything else, he’d forever be remembered as the man who gave the world the post-apocalyptic road-thrills drama Mad Max. Miller’s movie, in 1979, was a low-budget landmark of gonzo filmmaking that became an action-adventure icon, spawning two sequels, both starring Mel Gibson and both directed by Miller.

Now Miller—who went on to produce, write and/or direct other acclaimed films, including Dead Calm, Lorenzo’s Oil, Happy Feet and Babe—has returned to where he started, and this explosively revved-up reboot, epic in every sense of the word, may become the crowning achievement of his already impressive career. It’s big, bold and brash and makes the loudest bang, by a long shot, of any movie this year so far—if not any movie of any recent year. It’s grotesque and gorgeous and glorious all at once, both brutal and beautiful, a thing of cinematic wonder and wizardry, a circus of eye-popping, old-school stunt work, and a crazy orchestration of such sheer, all-out gusto, spunk, energy, imagination and nerve, it makes most other blockbusters, superhero sagas and special-effect blowouts look like they were made with doodles, doodads and trinkets from a toy box.

Miller’s new Max grabs you from the first scene and never lets go as it establishes its central character, its parched desert setting and its harsh parameters. “My name is Max,” intones the figure we first see onscreen snatching a lizard from his boot—then popping it into his mouth and eating it. “A man reduced to a single instinct: survival.”

FURY ROADAnd then, BAM—Max (Tom Hardy) is off and running—and so are we—on a wild, wild chase across a bleak wasteland of sand, mud and rock, pursued by a banshee-like posse of freakish “war boy” cultists, and thrown by dire circumstance into the company of a ferocious, one-armed defector (Charlize Theron) and her precious cargo: the four young wives of the cult’s terrifying leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also appeared in the original Max).

FURY ROAD

Charlize Theron

Miller stages his story (written with collaborators Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris)—a ripping fable about a small group of people looking for redemption in a ruined, bizarr-o world of fire, water, gasoline and blood—with constant movement. His cameras, like his characters, almost never pause; they’re always sweeping, swooping, panning, scanning or tracking, adding to the persistent, insistent sensation of motion and danger, of never feeling like it’s safe enough to slow down.

The automotive stunts, chase scenes and fights are so extraordinarily, intensely over-the-top, they become things of art—manic, mad-hatter masterworks of coordination as men scamper over, under, through, in and out of all kinds of cars, trucks and monstrous hybrid vehicles as they roar along at great speeds, often colliding, frequently exploding—and, in one absolutely stupendous sequence, being sucked up into a sand cyclone.

Harding is terrific, Theron is even better, and Miller, well, this time he’s outdone even himself. Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t just the movie to see—it’s the movie so “max” you’ll need to see it more than once to marvel in all it is, all it does, and just how much it blows almost everything else away.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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One Man Show

Tom Hardy owns the road in intense, riveting ‘Locke’

LockeLocke

Blu-ray $24.99 / DVD $19.98

British actor Tom Hardy is outstanding in this one-man show as a Ivan Locke, a husband, father and by-the-books construction supervisor, alone in a car, driving at night—and confronting, over his phone, a situation in his life that for the first time can’t be easily, neatly managed. Intense, riveting and powerfully cinematic, it’s a journey in which Locke learns that the road to becoming a better man is a long, sometimes dark and lonely one, with both endings and beginnings. Bonus features include a making of feature, and director commentary.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Nighttime Drive

Tom Hardy masterfully steers riveting one-man show

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Locke

Starring Tom Hardy

Directed by Steven Knight

R, 85 min.

A man gets in his car and heads into the night, alone.

You’ve probably seen a movie start that way before. But I guarantee you’ve never seen a movie like this one, in which that man, in his car, is the movie—the entire movie.

British writer-director Steven Knight’s uniquely captivating Locke unfolds in 90-some minutes of real time as its title character, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), steps into his BMW SUV and, instead of going home after work one evening, makes a fateful turn at a traffic signal and heads in the opposite direction.

Soon enough, we learn why, through conversations Locke makes and receives on his vehicle’s hands-free Bluetooth phone.

Locke 3rgbLocke is the only character we see throughout the entire film, and he never ventures outside his automobile. It’s a confined, closed-off, claustrophobic setting that ratchets up the intensity of Hardy’s magnificent one-man-show performance, which is almost exclusively done from the neck up.

Even within such a Spartan setting and with such sparse details, we learn much about Hardy’s character: Ivan Locke is a good, solid, highly respected man, a construction foreman working on the biggest project of his career, a concrete pour for the foundation of a massive skyscraper that will be the tallest in all of Europe. Locke’s phone conversations with his wife, his sons, his boss, his co-worker, and a woman—miles away, waiting for him, alone in a hospital—reveal a crack in the foundation of his life that is getting wider with every mile he drives, threatening to send it all crashing down, in rubble, around him.

Hardy is a fine British actor, best and most widely known as the villainous Bane in the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. He gives Locke a comforting, calming Welsh Midlands purr perfect for his character—a planner, a preparer, a fixer, a repairer, a man who knows what needs to be done and how to do it. But can he do it now? “I’m not going to turn back,” he vows. “I am trying to do the right thing.” (It’s no coincidence that the character shares the last name of one Britain’s greatest philosophers, John Locke, who believed in reason as the pathway to enlightenment.)

Locke 2That “right thing” forms the movie’s moral core, the shape for the riveting story that builds around it. Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos creates a mesmerizing swirl of reflections and refractions—headlights, taillights, street lights, dashboard lights, road signs and signals—as Locke’s vehicle zooms through the darkness, drawing us into the character’s world and its compounding complications.

Locke is a “little” film that probably won’t play wide, in a lot of mainstream theaters. Admittedly, it’s a tough sell: It’s a movie in which nothing really “happens” in the conventional sense. But if you love movies, seek it out. Its themes of construction and cracks, choices and consequences, decisions and detours, right and wrong, and frailty and strength are woven into a masterstroke of storytelling and minimalist filmmaking. And it’s your chance to see a powerhouse of a young actor, Tom Hardy, in a role that people are likely going to be talking about for years.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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