Warrior, 2011 (dir. Gavin O?Connor)
The only thing pretty boy Tom Hardy loves more than fetishistically hiding his beautiful face from us is playing dudes who are good at fighting. The man loves to play brawlers ? even if a character of his is never shown fighting or physically destroying another human being, it?s at least implied that they easily could.
Outside of martial arts films, few modern leading actors have such a storied tradition of playing characters who are as good at fighting as Tom Hardy has. Here is a quick run-down of his best fights in his filmography.
Tommy vs Mad Dog, first fight/gym fight
Warrior, 2011 (dir. Gavin O?Connor)
Warrior is Hollywood?s greatest attempt at giving Mix Martial Arts a passable dramatic sports movie. Really, all they did was make another East Coast Drama About Boxing but made kicks and strategic hugging legal. It?s also one of those Sad Men movies, where the thrust of the plot is from males dealing with their emotional strugglers through competitive violence, and usually there?s a dirtbag patriarch played by a character actor thrown in for good measure.
In a role with his cleanest and most visible face to date, beautifully pouty Tom Hardy plays the poutingly beautiful Tommy, one of two brothers who enter the same MMA fighting tournament.
In a movie where 25% of its run-time is just Tom Hardy beating the shit out of other men, it?s his first fight against Mad Dog that is the movie?s best. Coming in at around the 15 minute mark, it acts as the movie?s inciting incident. Mad Dog, an established Professional MMA fighter (played by a real life MMA fighter), is practising with some sparring partner in a gym that Tommy frequents. Mad Dog goes too hard and knocks out his partner too quickly, thus creating a need for a new random sparring partner. Tommy humbly offers to fight him once an open offer of $200 is made.
From the very start, Tommy gets 100% of the offense. He utterly dominates his opponent; it?s the most clean and satisfying squash match in a Hollywood film. As a fight, it has a simple structure: hunk-o-man-meat Tom destroys a dude and then demands money from said dude?s manager (?You owe me 200 bucks?). Just cold blooded!
It?s a satisfying scene because Tommy is a character clearly waiting for an excuse to beat the ever living hell out of a man. He wants to beat up his Nick Nolte of a father so he needs to guide that hate into different human-punching-bags. He?s principled enough that he needs a legal and morally acceptable reason to do it ? which is why he trains in combat sports ? yet is clearly sociopathic enough that he would probably kill a man if he was given the opportunity.
Ronnie vs Reggie, club fight
Legend, 2015 (dir. Brian Helgeland)
2015?s Legend is a mediocre movie with two great Tom Hardy performances. So really it?s a test to see how much you love Tom Hardy. I passed where lesser wills would have failed, sure, but even I will admit that the movie isn?t very good. It has a couple of fight scenes where Tom clearly gets to have some fun ? one including where two Tom Hardys use hammers to brutalize a bar full of guys ? but there?s only one fight scene that manages to elevate the entire film?s quality. It?s a scene where the two Toms fights themselves!
Ol? pretty lips Tom plays real-life British gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie Kray. Around the film?s midpoint, Reggie has just been released from a brief stay in prison while Ronnie has been tanking their club?s business with his crazy antics. The final straw comes when Ronnie verbal insults Reggie?s wife, Frances (who?s also the movie?s omniscient narrator). Reggie grabs Ronnie from behind and throws him across several tables and the brawl descends into madness from there.
It?s filled with decent comedy and physical movement, excellent use of storytelling, and good use of movie-making by adequately capturing a fight between two Tom Hardys.
There?s a lot of dirty heel moves in this fight: both brothers grab for the testicles, both brothers try and gouge at soft bits ? they fight like brothers who are adult enough to have learned what parts of a human hurt the most.
It?s a scene that helps sell the movie???it?s a seamless use of two characters played by one actor, one that utilizes the film?s gimmick while also legitimizing it. This is the film?s best scene outside of its bloodier climax.
DARK KNIGHT RISES, 2012
Bane vs Batman, sewer lair fight
The Dark Knight Rises, 2012 (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Tom plays the man who gives the most dominant on-screen beat down on the Batman of the most critically lauded Batman film franchise.
The Dark Knight Rises contains somewhere within it a great movie wherein our perfect boy Tom gets to play big daddy Bane. Traditionally, the character is known as Batman?s greatest opponent in a physical fight, which is easily something that sold Hardy on the role.
This is a fight between an apex brawler and a seasoned-veteran fresh out of retirement. It?s another squash match: Batman gets minimal offense, with Bane straight up no-selling Batman?s trippy-smoke-bombs at a crucial point.
Bane trash talks Batman with his beautifully stupid voice, boasting how he?s top dog at Batman?s old faction, The League of Shadows. He throws a spinning right hook at one point that knocks Batman?s ass out. Great
The finisher is a brutal showcase, Burly Arms Bane just punches Batman?s head until his cowl cracks open, destroying the character?s iconography, and then lifts him clean above his head for the iconic back-breaking scene. One of the most traumatic images for Batman fans in the 90?s and Tom Hardy got to live it out. Good for him.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, 2015
Max vs Furiosa
Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015 (dir. George Miller)
Mad Max: Fury Road is a perfect movie starring puppy face Hardy and ?I Have A ?Z? in My Name? Charlize Theron. The fight the two share before they ultimately team up is a great example in booking a fight where both opponents come out looking strong. Both combatants can rely on effective excuses for not dominating the fight: Furiosa is missing her prosthetic arm and Max is chained to the deadweight of another man and a car door, so neither is really seen as weak despite the fight?s outcome. Both look good, there is a great back and forth in offense and both have periods of dominance throughout.
Furiosa has the Wives on her side while Max has Nux, once he wakes up, aiding him. Outside Interference is usually seen as a heel tactic or trick that leads to a nefarious victory, often being seen as a ?dirty? or underhanded victory; however, when both sides employ and benefit from interference, it tends to cancel out, leaving the victor with a fairly ?clean? win.
The fight is so close that a ?foreign object? is needed for victory ? a handgun is introduced and Max only barely grabs victory by avoiding being shot in the head and then ultimately getting the gun.
Ivan Locke vs Ghost Dad, cough syrup induced hallucination
Locke, 2013 (dir. Steven Knight)
Featuring a full-beard Tom Hardy, and little else, Locke is literally 80 minutes of one guy driving from Birmingham to London. It?s pretty great! A sad face Tom plays Locke, a Welsh concrete contractor that needs to drive to London to witness the birth of his child with a woman who is not his wife. He talks on the phone with people and monologues about concrete. He also has a cold the entire time. Again, it?s a great movie! It serves as a good metaphor for a man?s inability to accept yadda yadda about something?but it?s also about a dude talking to the ghost of his dead dad as an excuse for him to verbalize his motivations!
In the immediate aftermath of Locke drinking half a bottle of cough syrup (from the bottle, mind you) while driving, he looks into his rear-view mirror and then starts chewing out someone who is not there. He does that thing everyone who drives for long periods alone do where you practice talking to people who are not there. He snarls and seethes at his absentee father, trash talking him like he?s shooting a promo on a lesser rival.
He talks about how shitty his father was and how easily he could break his back, all while using a voice that?s not dissimilar to his Bane voice (ie. his Best Voice). Even if a character of his isn?t explicitly physically destroying another human, Tom Hardy characters are always capable of throwing down.