Posts Tagged ‘tom hardy’

Venom

An interstellar spaceship carrying parasites, known as Symbiotes , crash lands in Malaysia, and one of the Symbiotes escapes.  The flight is funded by tech billionaire, Carlton Drake. (Riz Ahmed)   Intrepid television reporter, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) gets an interview with Drake and asks him about some experiments that Drake is doing with the Symbiotes.  Brock gets this information surreptitiously from his girlfriend, Anne Waying (Michelle Williams) who is a lawyer working on a class-action lawsuit against Drake’s company.  For his efforts , Brock gets fired from his job, loses his girlfriend, and ends up washing dishes to earn a living.

Without looking for information, the Drake story follows Brock.  He gets an unsolicited tip from Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate)  a scientist working on Drake’s lab experiments, who tells Brock that people are dying as a result of  Drake’s experiments.  Brock visits the lab, and sees one of his friends, a homeless woman named Maria, (Melora Walters) is dying from the experiments with Symbiotes, Brock tries to save Maura but she dies, and the Symbiote escapes.  Where did it go?  Does Eddie Brock stop Carlton Drake’s experiments on people?

There is one word for this movie and it is disappointing.  I waited 8 months for this movie and the result is an ultra-conventional superhero movie, with lots of chase scenes, and special effects and little in the way of character development or plot development.  The plot is threadbare, and the characters are so thin they are see-through.  The writers don’t have a simple understanding of parasites or symbiosis.  Symbiosis is supposed to create a mutually beneficial relationship for both organisms, and a parasite can’t live without its host.  Do the writers of this movie have even a basic understanding of science?  Science fiction fans will swallow anything if they like this movie.  To top it off the ending is underwhelming.

I love Tom Hardy, he is the reason I went to this movie, he genuinely tries to pump some life into his lonely, sad-sack, wimpy, loser, character, but the awful script ties his hands.  He has more fun with the Venom character and uses his voice to great effect, but this role is largely a wasted opportunity, the writers traded box office cash for real depth of character and plot.  Michelle Williams is also wasted as nothing more than a hollow love interest.  Riz Ahmed’s character is a little more interesting, he plays an evil Elon Musk character, but his execution lacks emotion, he sounds detached and uninterested.  Three really good actors can’t pump life into this movie, what does that say about the writing?  Not much. All the actors deserved better than this pedestrian script.

The director Reuben Fleischer directed Zombieland, which I liked, but this is a very vanilla directing effort.  There are the requisite action scenes, the requisite special effects, the requisite chase scenes, but there’s nothing iconic here.  He keeps things moving along, but doesn’t do anything to make this movie special.

Venom:  Should be box office poison, but won’t be.

Dunkirk

In 1940, thousands of Allied soldiers are pushed back by the Nazis to the city of Dunkirk in France. They are surrounded by German soldiers on all sides, and waiting to be evacuated.  Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) is a British private who survives an ambush attack, he helps get a soldier onto a British hospital ship, which is bombed by the Germans before Tommy gets on and sunk, Tommy saves Alex (Harry Styles) before the hospital ship sinks.  Tommy gets onto a destroyer, which is also sunk by a German U-Boat. A third soldier, Gibson (Aneurin Bernard) saves Tommy and Alex, and they are towed by a rowboat back to shore. Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branaugh ) explains to Colonel Winnant (James D’Arcy) that destroyers are too big to aid in the evacuation, and the British Navy has requested civilian vessels to help with the evacuation of Dunkirk.

Gibson, Tommy and Alex make it onboard a trawler and wait for high tide, but when the trawler gets underway questions arise about Gibson.  Is he a spy?

One of the civilian vessels requisitioned by the Navy , Moonshine, is captained by Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Peter’s friend George (Barry Keoghan) set out for Dunkirk.  On the way, they rescue a shell-shocked solder (James Bloor) from a sunken ship.  When the soldier realizes they are going back to Dunkirk, the soldier objects, does the soldier succeed in turning Moonshine around?

In the air, three Spitfire pilots fly toward France, the squadron leader is shot down soon after their mission begins.  Farrier (Tom Hardy) takes the lead and shoots down several German aircraft, but he realizes that his fuel gauge is broken on his plane, so he has to rely on the third pilot in the squad, Collins (Jack Lowden) to monitor Farrier’s fuel.  Can Farrier adequately protect the requisitioned fleet or any other allied seafaring craft from the Nazi bombing campaign?  Do Farrier and Collins make it back home safely?

Dunkirk is unique in that it is a story told from a perspective before Pearl Harbor Day, most Hollywood movies focus on events after the Americans enter the war, this movie has more of a European perspective to the storytelling.  Dunkirk tells the story of the evacuation of Dunkirk from three distinct perspectives, the ground, frim the point of view of a private named Tommy, from the sea, from the point of view of a leisure boat captain, named Dawson, and from the air from a Spitfire pilot named Farrier. Christopher Nolan creates a screenplay rife with conflict, one storyline has a man vs. man conflict, another is man vs man and also man vs machine and one storyline is just a commentary about the utility of war. The insight into mankind’s condition when placed in a situation of ultimate stress is what makes this movie interesting, the viewer actually sees how different people react to the threat and reality of a world war..  The endings are realistic, yet satisfying.  Seeing all three subplots play out is what makes the movie so entertaining.

The acting is superb.  Tom Hardy is one of my favorite current actors, he can say a lot without saying, anything, and that’s good because he doesn’t have a heck of a lot of dialogue in this part.  His instruments are failing him, his plane is going to go down, what is he going to do? It’s great acting, when  he can transmit emotion by just letting things happen. James Bloor also does an excellent job in an unlikeable role as the shell-shocked solder.  He conveys the desperation of a man suffering from PTSD well.  Mark Rylance is superb displaying the quiet determination of the captain of a civilian vessel willing to do  his part to aid in the war effort.  Kenneth Branaugh is steady as the man in charge of the docks in Dunkirk. Barry Keoghan is also excellent as George, a teenager who has never done anything noteworthy.  He wants to make his mark in W.W.II.

The direction is electric from the first scene to the last.  The first scene has German propaganda leaflets like rain and sets the mood for the rest of the film.  The audience follows a British private named Tommy, and sees the evacuation from his point of view, that really gets the viewer involved.  Then the viewer sees Mr. Dawson, his son, and George, and then Farrier in the air.  The scenes are intercut so well that no one storyline goes on too long and no other storyline lacks attention.  The dogfight scenes between Farrier and the Germans are exhilarating, and the music by Hans Zimmer made the action pulse forward with incredible urgency. Christopher Nolan as a director, knows how to make his movies visually stimulating, and pace his movies at a breakneck pace. Nolan takes what could have been a dull, dry subject and makes it exciting.

Dunkirk.  Well-done.

The Revenant

In 1823, fur trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is leading a group of fur trappers through unexplored territory, which would later become South Dakota.   They are being chased by members of the Arikara tribe, and losing men each day.  Glass advises the trappers to abandon the boat they are sailing across the Missouri River, and travel by land.  Glass soon regrets his own advice, when he is seriously mauled by a bear. Realizing they can’t take Glass along, Captain Henry (Domhall Gleeson) tries to shoot Glass to put him out of his misery, but can’t bring himself to do it.  Then he offers a reward to two people who stay behind to take care of Glass.  Young trapper Jim Bridger, (Will Poulter) Glass’ half Pawnee son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) agree to stay behind, but Fitzgerald has no intention of caring for Glass, and he reports to Bridger that Hawk is missing. Meanwhile the Akikara Chief, Elk Dog (Duane Howard) is looking for the men who kidnapped his daughter.  Does Glass survive?  Where is Hawk?  Does Elk Dog find his daughter?

This is a double revenge fantasy, and though it has a couple of false endings, and it requires the viewer to suspend his or her tethers to reality more than once, it is also a story about the importance of family, and that is what holds the viewer riveted for two and a half hours.  The Native Americans are written realistically, they are all acting according to what they believe their best interests are.  Some fought the white man, others tried to trade with the white man.  Similarly, despite the bloody and oftentimes violent scenes, the ending is surprisingly nuanced, and welcome.

The acting is superb.  Did Leonardo DiCaprio deserve the Best Actor Oscar?  Honestly, I didn’t think he did.  Unless moaning and groaning counts as good acting, he was mute for large portions of this movie, and screaming through clenched teeth does not equate to a good enough performance for an Oscar.  This is what I would call a make-up Oscar, Academy voters are trying to make up for all those snubs or losses by giving him this one.  Acting should not be judged the same as Little League, an actor shouldn’t get a prize for just participating.  When he did speak, he did a good job of conveying anger and pain, there just wasn’t enough in the role for an Oscar win.  He’s had better performances in Django Unchained and Wolf of Wall Street, and even Titanic, so I can see no other reason for this win.

Frankly, Tom Hardy gave a much better performance as the ruthless, money hungry John Fitzgerald.  Without Hardy’s performance, DiCaprio would have nothing to play against.  Before you think I’m a Tom Hardy fanboy, he was a non-entity in Mad Max Fury Road, but he was Oscar worthy in either this movie or Legend.  He is a superb actor. Will Poulter also gave an excellent performance as the newer member of the trapping team, Bridger.  He was intimidated by Fitzgerald, and guilt ridden by the decisions he made, and Poulter conveyed those emotions well. Domhall Gleeeson gave perhaps the best performance of his young career.  He showed both strength and sensitivity in this performance.  I also liked Forrest Goodluck as Hawk.  It was a complex role, and Goodluck played it well.  I also liked that the Native American roles were played by Native American actors, that gave the film more authenticity.

The direction by Alejandro Inarritu is spellbinding, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the landscape photography is spellbinding.  The CGI bear attack is less convincing, the bear seems somehow faster than a real bear, and that took away from the reality a bit.  The pacing was slow at times, but picked up during the climax of the movie.  The fight scenes were mostly well staged and realistic.  He stayed away from the gimmickry of Birdman, having most of the movie consist of one long scene without editing, for example. The use of editing in Birdman became a distraction in my opinion. These scenes are cut together perfectly in order to tell a cohesive story.  He gets tremendous performances from his entire cast, great performances plus stunning visuals, simply stated, he deserved the Oscar for Best Director for The Revenant.

The Revenant:  Grin and bear it

legend

Reggie Kray and his brother Ron (Tom Hardy) are small-time gangsters in the East end of London. Ron is certifiably insane, and expects Reggie to look after him.  Reggie falls in love with the sister of his driver, Frances Shea. (Emily Browning) Reggie tries to convince Frances that he’s not a gangster by buying a nightclub.  Reggie runs the club successfully, until he learns he has to go to jail for 6 months for a prior conviction.  While Reggie is in jail, his brother Ron almost ruins the Reggie’s club with his erratic behavior.  Reggie’s greatest competition is the Richardson Gang, Eddie (Martin McCreadie) and his brother Charlie. (Paul Bettany)  When the Eddie and Charlie are sent to jail, London was left wide open for gangsters, and The Krays step into the void.  Reggie does such a good job managing the club, he gets the attention of Angelo Bruno (Chazz Palmintieri) an associate of Meyer Lansky.  Lansky wants to co-own a club with Reggie, but Bruno warns Reggie of Ron’s erratic behavior.  Ironically, it’s Ron’s erratic behavior that that frees the Kray brothers from government scrutiny.  The mob life takes a toll on Frances, who repeatedly implores Reggie to quit the mob life, does he listen?  Does Ron’s continued erratic behavior land the Krays in trouble?

This is a great movie about two gangsters I’ve never heard of, the Kray brothers.  Every time the viewer thinks the movie is glamorizing the mob life, something jarring happens to the Kray brothers or Frances, and the viewer is dragged from the fantasy of the glamorous mob life into the harsh reality of what organized crime really looks like. A scene near the end of the movie is exceedingly violent, but also true to life. This movie did not pull any punches, that is what makes it so good.

I am amazed that Tom Hardy Was not nominated for this performance.  He made each twin distinct in voice patterns and mannerisms so that the viewer sees them as two different people not one actor playing twins.  And then, when the viewer thinks each character is set, Hardy turns the tables and makes the viewer wonder if either of the Kray twins is in anyway sane.  It’s a standout performance.  I liked Matt Damon in The Martian, but Tom Hardy was better.  I will wait to comment on Leo’s performance in The Revenant. A nice surprise was Emily Browning as Frances, she delivers an emotionally complex performance, highlighting the rollercoaster life of a mobster’s spouse. The rest of the cast was a mostly British ensemble cast that fits the movie nicely.

There is nothing outstanding about the direction, the pacing was good, the acting was good throughout.  Brian Helgeland is both director and writer, and he directed both LA Confidential and Mystic River, so he definitely knows his way around the crime drama genre.

Legend:  A hale and hardy performance from Tom.

mad max fury road

In a post-apocalyptic Australia, a warlord named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keys Bearne) controls one of the remaining population centers left, called the Citadel.  He controls the distribution of the food, water, and the population itself, selecting only the most beautiful women to mate with. Max Rockatansky  (Tom Hardy) is a prisoner of Immortan Joe who escapes.  Max is joined by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is looking for her family in the green area, and takes some of Joe’s finest breeders with her.  Nux (Nicholas Hoult) believes that Joe is a Devine ruler and Nux is one of Joe’s most fervent followers.  He volunteers to bring Max, Furiosa, and the breeders back to Joe.  Do Max and Furiosa escape Immortan Joe and Nux?  Do they find the green place and safety?  Or does Joe hunt them down and bring them back?

I didn’t see the original Mad Max movies, and I didn’t see this one for a long time, because I generally don’t like reboots or sequels.  A reboot, sequel or prequel is Hollywood’s way of saying, “We’ve run out of new ideas, so here’s an old idea, for a new generation.”  Fury Road is no exception.  It’s an old idea wrapped in a bright, shiny, new package, but resist opening the package, because there’s nothing inside.  The story is threadbare, there is no plot development, no character development, nothing but mindless chase scenes and violence, Hollywood’s go-to staple.  All the talk of the feminist hero Furiosa had me at least curious to see this movie, but her character is entirely mitigated by the mindless runway model breeders, who look like they stepped off the cover of Vogue despite living in a post-apocalyptic society.  One of the characters switches allegiances in the middle of the movie, for no apparent reason, and the movie goes on for a half an hour longer than it should. George Miller is the principal writer for this tripe, so he gets most of the blame.

The acting is below par, especially with such a talented cast.  Tom Hardy, who I liked in The Dark Knight Rises and Inception, is reduced to a series of monosyllabic, monotone grunts and groans, the script is a real disservice to his acting skills.  Charlize Theron is easily one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood, and she proves it here by sounding like an American in the middle of the Australian outback.  She was born and raised in South Africa, how hard is it to do an Australian accent when you’re from South Africa.  Nicholas Hoult keeps getting these high profile roles, and I keep wondering why , other than playing Beast, he’s really not that good.  He at least tries to do an Aussie accent, he lays it on thick, but he tries.

As non-existent as the plot was, the visuals were exhilarating.  The cinematography was spellbinding, the daytime shots were covered in an orangish hue, and the night shots were bathed in a pale blue light.  It was spectacular to see.  That said, George Miller’s pacing is horrible, either breakneck speed, or pathetically slow lulls to explain the non-existent plot.  Miller also gets lousy performances from Hardy, Theron and Hoult, and that doesn’t say much for his directorial skills. This film has ten Oscar nominations, including best film.  It really makes me wonder if the Oscar voters even watch these movies.

Mad Max:  Fury Road  Full of Potholes and plot holes.