13 Best Tom Hardy Movies
Over a two-decade career on the big screen, English gent Tom Hardy has established himself as one of the most fascinating performers in the business. The affable rogue has gone from bit player to leading man and is now one of the most in-demand actors in the world, with these 13 picks the best Tom Hardy movies in his stacked filmography. Not bad for a guy who grew up in southwest London and suffered from dysthymia and a crack cocaine addiction as a teenager.
But those days are long behind Hardy, whose first acting credit came in the hit HBO war series Band of Brothers in 2001. That same year Hardy had a small part in another war movie, Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. Since then Hardy has played the notorious prisoner Charles Bronson in Bronson, an MMA fighter in Warrior, UK gangsters Ronald & Reginald Kray in Legend, Chicago mob boss Al Capone in Capone, and Marvel anti-hero Venom in two movies based on the famous character. He’s even appeared in a Star Trek film!
Then there is his work on the small screen which includes scene-stealing roles in TV shows Peaky Blinders and The Take, as well as mesmerizing performance as the lead in Taboo, a show created by Hardy, his father, and Peaky Blinders showrunner Steven Knight.
But enough about his television work; this article focuses on Hardy’s best movie roles. Whether it’s via physical transformations, weird voices, or pure acting prowess, the movies listed below are all the much better for Hardy’s involvement and showcase the actor’s incredible talent in front of the camera. So in no particular order, here are the best Tom Hardy movies worth checking out.
12 Best Tom Hardy Movies of All Time
1. Locke (2013)
Unlike many of Hardy’s recent movies that rely on the actor’s physique, over-the-top voices, or strange ticks, Locke is all about the understated nuances of Hardy’s acting ability. Similar to Ryan Reynold’s Buried, this movie is shot in one location, the car Hardy’s construction manager Ivan Locke is driving on his way back to London.
He is meant to be overseeing the pouring of a concrete foundation in Birmingham but is racing to London for the premature birth of his child, the result of a one-night stand. To complicate matters further, his wife and sons are waiting at home for him and his job depends on him being present.
As he races south to London, Locke’s life unravels through a series of phone calls he has with family, friends, and colleagues. With the camera firmly planted on Hardy the entire film, he manages to draw you in with his incredible acting with a story that will have you on edge until the final minutes.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
When George Miller announced Tom Hardy was to take over the role of Mad Max Rockatansky in the fourth entry in the much-loved franchise, movie fans jumped with joy. But Hardy’s take on the character first played by Mel Gibson is a twitchy, violent, near-silent construction of a man still suffering from the death of his family and trying to find meaning in a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by cartoon villains driving pimped-out vehicles.
Although titled Mad Mad: Fury Road, you could argue the main character is in fact Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa, a one-armed lieutenant of warlord Immortan Joe who finds a conscious and tries to flee Joe’s citadel with his Five Wives.
What follows is an awe-inspiring 120-minute chase across the desert as Max, Furiousa, and the Five Wives are hunted by Joe and his cohorts. Hardy’s performance is the icing on the cake in one of the best action movies of the 00s.
3. The Revenant (2015)
Hardy received his first Oscar nod for his performance as John S. Fitzgerald in director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s beautifully shot historical drama The Revenant. Starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, who would finally win a Best Actor Award for his performance (Hardy himself got a Best Supporting Actor nod), the movie received universal critical acclaim and made a tidy $533 million at the box office.
After a bear attack leaves DiCaprio’s trapper Hugh Glass near death, Fitzgerald is tasked with looking after him and his son as the rest of their party escape for fear of an attack by the Arikara. Taking matters into his own hands, Fitzgerald kills Glass’ son and leaves him for dead. Turns out to be the wrong move, as Glass recovers and sets out on a mission of revenge.
While Hardy is great as a good guy, he seems to relish playing evil characters, with Fitzgerald a devious and duplicitous individual who will do anything to stay alive, including murdering the innocent. Not only are Hardy and DiCaprio both outstanding, but the bleak depiction of the Dakota territories and the adverse conditions only highlight the stunning cinematography of this brilliant film.
4. Legend (2015)
Two Tom Hardy’s for the price of one! Legend is based on John Pearson’s book, The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins, a biography of the infamous London gangsters who ruled the underworld from the late 1950s to 1967.
While the movie itself didn’t fare that well critically, nobody can fault Hardy’s dedication to playing both twins, career criminal Reggie and loose cannon Ronnie. He manages to make both of the characters feel unique and the scene where the two get into a fist fight is as close as you’ll get to seeing Hardy on Hardy action.
This one has a pretty great supporting cast too, with the likes of Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Paul Bettany, Chazz Palminteri, David Thewlis, Colin Morgan, Paul Anderson, and Christopher Eccleston all featuring in this gangster tale.
5. Bronson (2008)
Bronson is the movie that put Tom Hardy on the map. In the sixth flick from acclaimed director Nicolas Winding Refn, Hardy stars as Charles Bronson, aka Michael Gordon Peterson, a violent criminal considered by the British penal system as the most dangerous man in the country.
This is a tour de force as Hardy dominates the screen as the mustache-twirling, violent psychopath who has spent more years behind bars than walking the streets. The film neither explains the reasons for Bronson’s thinking nor tries to justify his malicious actions, instead painting a graphic picture of a troubled and complicated man with multiple personalities trying to find some sort of peace in an otherwise violent world.
6. The Drop (2014)
Another understated performance from Hardy, The Drop is a crime thriller that also stars Noomi Rapace, John Ortiz, Matthias Schoenaerts, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and James Gandolfini in his final role.
Hardy plays the somber barman Bob Saginowski who finds himself in trouble when the mafia-owned bar he works at with his cousin, Marvin Stipler (Gandolfini), gets robbed. As the Chechen gangsters demand Bob and Marvin find the money, a subplot involving Bob adopting a mistreated dog and falling for a woman named Nadia who’s being stalked by her abusive former boyfriend adds another layer to this tense thriller.
Hardy is also playing against type as the nice guy Bob, showing that he can play a sympathetic hero without needing to flex his muscles.
7. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Doing his best to rival Christian Bale’s Batman voice, Tom Hardy puts on a Darth Vader-esque voice as the bulked-up villain Bane. Wearing a Hannibal-like leather respirator that helps him breeze, Bane is the big baddie who breaks Batman’s back and leaves him to rot in a Middle Eastern prison.
Hardy gained 30 pounds for the role to add more size to his frame and is said to have based the character’s vocal tones on bare-knuckle boxer Bartley Gorman. He’s menacing as Bane, torturing Batman both mentally and physically as he vows to wipe out Gotham City like his master Ra’s al Ghul.
8. Inception (2010)
In his first film for director Christopher Nolan, Hardy takes a small but scene-stealing role as Eames in the mind-bending Inception. A film about people who infiltrate others’ dreams to steal information, this movie is a real mind fuck with a cast of incredible actors that also includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, and Marion Cotillard.
While his role is minor, Hardy brightens up the screen every time he appears. Eames is a charming, posh English gent who specializes in identity theft and plays a pivotal role in the film. Hardy is magnetic and his wordplay with Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur is a highlight.
9. Black Hawk Down (2001)
Tom Hardy’s first feature film role came in Ridley Scott’s 2001 war flick Black Hawk Down. Based on true events, the movie follows the US military’s 1993 raid in Mogadishu where a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in enemy territory and the attempts made to save those who survived the crash.
While there has been much controversy surrounding the factual nature of the movie (Ridley does like to take liberties here and there), there is no denying Black Hawk Down is an edge-of-your-seat war drama with an absolutely stacked cast that includes Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor, William Fichtner, Sam Shepherd, Orlando Bloom, Kim Coates, and Josh Hartnett.
Hardy’s role as SPC Lance Twombly is part of a subplot involving his character and Ewen Bremmer’s SPC Shawn Nelson being separated from their squad and left to fend for themselves behind enemy lines. The two must rely on each other as they try and rejoin their comrades without being killed as the enemy closes in on them.
10. Warrior (2011)
Before the UFC became the monster that it is today, Hollywood predicted the rise of combat sports with the underappreciated Warrior. The film stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as estranged brothers who enter a mixed martial arts tournament. Unsurprisingly the two progress to the final where they are matched against each other.
Warrior is a gripping and emotional roller coaster that also stars Nick Nolte as the brother’s alcoholic father trying to make things right and Frank Grillo as Edgerton’s trainer. The fight scenes are well shot with several real-life combat fighters cameoing, including figures like Kurt Angle, Nate Marquardt, Anthony Johnson, Yves Edwards, and Amir Perets.
Directed by Gavin O’Connor, the man responsible for another epic sports movie—Miracle starring Kurt Russell—Warrior is like a modern-day Rocky with great performances, engaging dialogue, and a fantastic soundtrack.
11. Lawless (2012)
With a script adapted by Australian musician Nick Cave from Matt Bondurant’s historical novel, The Wettest County in the World, and directed by fellow Aussie John Hillcoat (The Proposition), Lawless is a Prohibition-era drama with an all-star cast led by another understand Tom Hardy performance.
Hardy is the middle of three brothers (the other two being Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf) who run a successful moonshine business in Virginia. Things take a turn when a new US Marshall arrives (Guy Pearce) and demands a cut of their business, something Hardy is not willing to do. Things get violent as the flamboyant Pearce vows to take down the stoic Hardy and his brothers.
This is another wonderful performance from Hardy, who excels at playing silent, brooding characters with a dark undercurrent. Throw in an extended cast that includes Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and Noah Taylor and you have yourself an entertaining period drama with plenty of action.
12. Dunkirk (2017)
Another small but stand-out role comes from Hardy in Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama Dunkirk. As the fighter pilot Farrier, we never actually see his face until the very end as he does his best to keep the retreating soldiers safe from German attack.
It’s believed Nolan specifically sort out Hardy for the role as he believed he was the only actor who could bring such a presence to the character without many lines of dialogue. Whatever his reasons it works, with Hardy’s near-suicidal mission giving the movie another layer of tension.
13. Layer Cake (2004)
Hardy doesn’t have much to do in Matthew Vaughn’s directorial debut but this film is worth mentioning due to how fucking good it is. A crime thriller in the mold of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, Layer Cake has a darker edge, swapping the comedy of Ritchie’s flicks for a serious tone where crime never pays.
Based on J. J. Connolly’s book of the same name, Daniel Craig stars as XXXX, a professional drug dealer who is ready to leave it all behind when he finds himself caught up looking for the missing daughter of a big-time gangster while being hunted by Serbian war criminals.
Layer Cake is a classic British crime caper that deserves to rank up there alongside The Long Good Friday, Sexy Beast, The Limey, and Get Carter. The cast also includes a who’s who of British character actors, such as Michael Gambon, Colm Meaney, Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, and George Harris, with Craig apparently winning the role of Bond thanks to his performance.
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