Total Recall

Tom Hardy's 10 Best Movies

In this week's Total Recall, we look at the best-reviewed work of the Taboo Star.

by | January 6, 2017 | Comments

Though he made his debut over a decade and a half ago in the celebrated HBO war miniseries Band of Brothers, Tom Hardy has truly broken out over the past few years, making a name for himself in major blockbusters and smaller indies alike. This weekend, he’ll anchor a BBC miniseries called Taboo, which will subsequently air in the U.S. on FX on January 10. It’s a period drama about a London man who returns home from Africa in 1814 to take charge of his late father’s shipping business amid a swirl of dark conspiracy, and it provides Hardy with another complex role to sink his teeth into. With that in mind, we thought it would be appropriate to take an appreciative look at some of the brightest critical highlights from his impressive filmography.

10. London Road (2015) 77%


While Tom Hardy is best known for a handful of high-profile roles, his filmography is far more eclectic than his blockbuster projects might suggest, and 2016’s London Road is a fine example of just how far afield he’s gone when picking scripts. Part real-life murder mystery, part musical (yes, really), director Rufus Norris’ look at the way a series of murders affected a British community blends jarringly disparate elements into an utterly memorable whole — and enlists the services of stars like Hardy, whose appearance highlights rarely tapped areas of his range. As Dave Calhoun wrote for Time Out, the film adds up to “An exciting, unsettling experience blessed with imagination and compassion.”

9. Layer Cake (2004) 80%

It sounds sweet, but Matthew Vaughn’s Layer Cake is anything but — it’s actually a pitch-black morality play about a successful drug dealer (Daniel Craig) who plans to retire from the business without tipping off his powerful supplier (Kenneth Cranham), partly with the assistance of a science-savvy young associate (Hardy). It’s all for naught, of course, and he soon finds himself needing to stay one step ahead from a growing list of enemies intent on doing him in before he can walk away from the business. “Vaughn’s film falls short of Goodfellas,” argued Kyle Smith of the New York Post, “but thanks to his ability to organize a complex story and bold, color-drenched photography by Ben Davis, Layer Cake is a cocked fist of a movie, impossible to ignore.”

8. Warrior (2011) 83%

After countless entries — some of them classics — how do you add something new to the professional fighting movie genre in the 21st century? Well, you probably can’t, but if you’re going to add to the list, it definitely helps if you step into the ring with a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte, all of whom answered the bell for director Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior. Starring Hardy and Edgerton as brothers whose separate quests for redemption put them on a collision course that can only be settled by beating people to bloody pulps, it made unlikely believers out of critics who’d seen more than their share of this kind of story — including Roger Ebert, who mused, “This is a rare fight movie in which we don’t want to see either fighter lose.”

7. The Revenant (2015) 78%


Hardy was overshadowed here by Leonardo DiCaprio’s ferociously committed performance — and arguably also by a bear — but any old-fashioned revenge quest is only as good as its villain, and as the loathsome John Fitzgerald, Hardy gave DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass a burning need to drag his battered body across the American frontier. One of 2015’s more grueling dramas, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant was also among its most critically acclaimed; as Brian Tallerico argued for, “You don’t just watch The Revenant, you experience it. You walk out of it exhausted, impressed with the overall quality of the filmmaking and a little more grateful for the creature comforts of your life.”

6. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) 83%

Few novelists have ever been able to match the cerebral layers that John le Carré applied to his take on the spy thriller, and adapting his work for the screen has always been a daunting task, particularly given that he operated in a genre that’s tended to prize action over intelligence. But director Tomas Alfredson (working from an adaptation written by Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan) proved himself more than up to the task with this 2011 version of the author’s 1974 classic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman as a retired spy brought back into active duty to investigate some troubling claims made by a defected MI6 operative (Hardy). Cool-tempered and whip-smart, this Tailor brought the book satisfyingly to life for critics like NPR’s Ella Taylor, who wrote, “Alfredson offers no concessions to hindsight, no lessons for today. Instead, he’s kept faith with le Carré’s bleak, romantically elegiac vision of a moment in 20th century history at once glorious and doomed.”

5. Inception (2010) 87%

Hardy’s marvelously committed performance in Bronson put him on the radar for a number of new fans, but it was his appearance in Christopher Nolan’s Inception the following year that announced his arrival into the blockbuster ranks. Part of a large ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page, Hardy played Eames, a member of the team of “extractors” headed up by DiCaprio’s character whose unique method of identity theft involves burrowing into dreams and impersonating people the dreamer trusts. It’s heady sci-fi stuff, punctuated with thrilling set pieces and impressive visuals, and topped off with an ending that viewers are still arguing over years later. “Inception is that rare film that can be enjoyed on superficial and progressively deeper levels,” wrote an admiring Ann Hornaday for the Washington Post. “[It’s] a feat that uncannily mimics the mind-bending journey its protagonist takes.”

4. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) 87%

The Dark Knight Rises had a tough act to follow in The Dark Knight, and a fair portion of that burden fell on Hardy’s performance as the movie’s villain, the masked terrorist known as Bane. Forced to act behind a facemask and under the shadow of Heath Ledger’s trilogy-defining turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight, Hardy put his own stamp on the series — and, with some bone-crunching combat in the movie’s big fight scene, on Christian Bale’s Batman. “Give Hardy credit,” insisted Dann Gire for the Daily Herald, “for supplying Bane with plenty of conviction and gravitas in a movie that, frankly, is less about actors than knockout set pieces captured in eyeball-popping spectacles.”

3. The Drop (2014) 89%

There have been so many gritty neighborhood crime dramas at this point that narrative twists are few and far between, and the success or failure of a movie like The Drop — directed by Michaël R. Roskam from a Dennis Lehane screenplay — rests more heavily on its stars than most. Happily for Roskam, he hit paydirt with his leading men, casting Hardy as a bartender caught up in an organized crime operation run by his cousin (James Gandolfini in his final film performance) and surrounding them with a supporting cast that included Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts. “With actors as interesting as Hardy, Gandolfini and Rapace,” observed Michael Phillips for the Chicago Tribune, “at least the cliches in The Drop have a fighting chance of holding your attention alongside the odd severed limb.”

2. Locke (2013) 91%

It takes place entirely in a moving car, and the camera rarely even leaves his face, yet Locke is as minute-by-minute gripping as any classic action thriller — and none of it would work without the mesmerizing work Hardy delivers in the title role. Starring as a man speeding to a fateful destination while caught between life-altering professional and personal crises, Hardy runs the emotional gamut from pleading to outraged over the course of the movie, and is never less than riveting; as Ty Burr wrote for the Boston Globe, “Hardy rises to the gimmick and grounds Locke with a performance as watchably charismatic as it is minimalist. You can’t take your eyes off him — which is fortunate since there’s no one else there.”

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) 97%

Hollywood’s franchise hunger has reached the point where any level of cynicism regarding a sequel, reboot, or reimagining is defensible, and given that it had been 30 years since the last Mad Max installment, one could be forgiven for approaching this Hardy-led continuation of the saga with a somewhat jaundiced eye. But all that time away from the franchise clearly gave director/co-writer George Miller plenty of ideas, because Fury Road is that rarest of blockbuster beasts: an action thriller that isn’t content to merely string together set pieces. In fact, it’s a surprisingly thoughtful film, one whose message is afforded equal importance alongside epic action sequences arranged with balletic, eye-popping grace. Amidst all this, Hardy’s Max Rockatansky remains a man of few words – in fact, he spends a good deal of the film with a mask covering his mouth – but alongside co-star Charlize Theron, he grounds the movie’s gonzo outbursts with palpable human emotion. “Believe all the hype,” cautioned Christy Lemire. “This movie will melt your face off.”

Tag Cloud

Amazon Studios Superheroe lord of the rings hispanic heritage month anime Hear Us Out Sundance Now Tomatazos crime thriller The Arrangement Ghostbusters serial killer Rocketman japan fast and furious zombies parents BBC Star Trek series Film Bravo golden globes Amazon Prime TV movies YouTube Premium zero dark thirty HBO Max rt labs critics edition DirecTV Netflix 71st Emmy Awards dc Lionsgate anthology award winner critic resources Sundance TV Musicals spinoff Legendary sopranos leaderboard TNT Crunchyroll The Academy adventure Music Disney Neflix Walt Disney Pictures cars GoT scene in color nfl Horror Comedy Central Premiere Dates Marvel Box Office Masterpiece sports Endgame marvel comics HBO ABC die hard Opinion E! reboot movies indie Food Network 2016 streaming movies FX on Hulu Acorn TV new york E3 witnail marvel cinematic universe A24 sequel adenture mob Broadway crime ABC Signature sequels composers romance Extras Captain marvel Nat Geo royal family classics FOX Paramount NBA discovery Peacock A&E The Purge Apple boxing Reality Competition DGA Action HBO Go finale Character Guide Pop blockbusters art house Image Comics Tumblr Drama know your critic festival Baby Yoda 2019 Awards The CW Western dramedy suspense basketball Apple TV+ true crime Disney+ Disney Plus batman Spring TV The Walt Disney Company 1990s SundanceTV hist cops Tarantino Summer children's TV feel good 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards blockbuster Mary Tyler Moore Vudu CBS All Access dragons PaleyFest indiana jones travel criterion New York Comic Con singing competition jamie lee curtis 21st Century Fox Comedy posters critics NYCC Holidays Logo live action cinemax news best period drama Super Bowl Emmys Comics on TV french prank concert blaxploitation Dark Horse Comics doctor who elevated horror transformers CMT Britbox Christmas rom-coms Women's History Month TCA Awards 45 Cartoon Network films scary movies Heroines revenge werewolf comics Amazon Prime Video toronto LGBTQ Thanksgiving DC Universe razzies docuseries Cannes Warner Bros. breaking bad new star wars movies Turner Classic Movies emmy awards Mary Poppins Returns Oscars American Society of Cinematographers spy thriller AMC Plus football superman unscripted christmas movies Mudbound comic book movies Binge Guide spanish language dreamworks name the review Holiday FX saw legend live event TV One telelvision Winners Star Wars Lifetime Christmas movies Creative Arts Emmys tv talk Rom-Com GIFs TruTV Pacific Islander Esquire Hallmark Christmas movies vs. VH1 Superheroes Starz USA Network animated 73rd Emmy Awards TV SDCC politics cancelled TV shows 72 Emmy Awards Apple TV Plus screen actors guild Lifetime Polls and Games slashers AMC television Pixar hidden camera Fox News joker reviews technology cats asian-american stoner heist movie mockumentary space nbcuniversal quibi italian versus Writers Guild of America ABC Family Hallmark based on movie Rocky Wes Anderson Paramount Network psycho mission: impossible rt labs WarnerMedia stop motion Song of Ice and Fire book ITV Comic Book YouTube Red streaming screenings Marvel Studios disaster CBS Pop TV Grammys medical drama USA kaiju Cosplay Infographic Tokyo Olympics new zealand TLC Trailer mcc young adult The Witch TV Land X-Men biopic king kong Universal Pictures YA Mary poppins LGBT Quiz foreign Columbia Pictures Photos Trivia Travel Channel trophy strong female leads TCA 2017 crossover Sci-Fi National Geographic WGN trailers Amazon Podcast renewed TV shows APB social media Adult Swim international Universal NBC BET Awards dceu Election Alien monster movies Crackle fresh Rock game show Instagram Live olympics psychological thriller Martial Arts Discovery Channel MSNBC slasher green book free movies superhero PBS franchise dexter james bond rotten movies we love south america richard e. Grant Ellie Kemper Academy Awards 2015 Fargo historical drama 90s godzilla Hulu BAFTA Year in Review RT21 cartoon OneApp Awards Tour cancelled television archives Television Academy cooking documentaries Lucasfilm canceled popular stand-up comedy RT History Disney streaming service cancelled TV series Classic Film high school TCM Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Toys talk show Television Critics Association spanish San Diego Comic-Con History black comedy Ovation Family thriller Chernobyl Fall TV Disney Channel justice league pirates of the caribbean japanese BET Certified Fresh Nickelodeon Mystery Marvel Television satire 4/20 Valentine's Day 24 frames First Reviews festivals Pride Month natural history Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Fox Searchlight comedies Set visit Syfy VOD Stephen King Winter TV 007 spain chucky Turner halloween tv 20th Century Fox video on demand hispanic all-time kong child's play crime drama PlayStation jurassic park Brie Larson worst movies Emmy Nominations canceled TV shows El Rey supernatural video a nightmare on elm street President DC Comics aapi Anna Paquin police drama casting Fantasy Exclusive Video robots war ViacomCBS facebook Sundance what to watch Arrowverse Funimation Best and Worst docudrama MCU Sneak Peek scorecard Schedule spider-verse Musical Avengers black aliens cults Nominations harry potter mutant target vampires Trophy Talk Watching Series 99% Netflix Christmas movies CW Seed political drama Sony Pictures miniseries remakes dark Red Carpet Reality adaptation independent nature Elton John IMDb TV comic BBC One toy story GLAAD dogs Marathons cancelled directors wonder woman See It Skip It diversity twilight comic books kids 2021 rt archives laika debate rotten king arthur Teen YouTube binge scary ESPN gangster Paramount Plus Black History Month Mindy Kaling science fiction 2018 theme song australia The Walking Dead universal monsters boxoffice action-comedy Spectrum Originals First Look worst comic book movie TCA Freeform women Showtime venice sitcom Pirates halloween DC streaming service CNN movie ID OWN genre sag awards TBS latino Countdown Shondaland Biopics Calendar Film Festival Spike VICE game of thrones ghosts 2020 spider-man Video Games Country Animation documentary Interview biography FXX Comic-Con@Home 2021 Black Mirror Pet Sematary book adaptation hollywood TV renewals romantic comedy comiccon TIFF zombie Kids & Family BBC America Disney Plus teaser MTV SXSW deadpool obituary Epix Tubi TCA Winter 2020 golden globe awards IFC 93rd Oscars ratings IFC Films Shudder 2017