Next Year’s a Locke for Tom Hardy – updated

(Yeah, yeah, you think it’s easy comin’ up with a clever title every time? You try it.)

Tom Hardy, Locke, movie

I’ve been trying to say what I wanted to say about both Tom Hardy and Locke for over a week now. Time to get this down before the movie comes out and renders this moot.

It has been far too long, in my humble opinion, since Tom Hardy has been on the big screen. He hasn’t had a movie in the theaters since last summer’s Lawless. Of course that was the last of three films released in 2012: First there was This Means War (oh well, every actor needs one of these on their resume. He’s not the first to be the best thing about ridiculous movie) which was followed by a little film called The Dark Knight Rises.

While I (along with legions of others) may have missed his face (and that mouth….where was I? Oh yeah. Sorry), I know that he’s been hard at work on several film projects (as well as a few humanitarian efforts). I could say that I believe that 2014 will be a HUGE year for Hardy, but I’ve had that thought before.

He’s been “on the verge” for a long time. I’ve been a fan since 2008’s Rocknrolla, but I really thought that after the rest of the world discovered him in Inception in 2010, that Warrior in 2011 was going to make him a household name. Wrong. It took a superhero flick in which his face was covered for all but 3 seconds of screen time to do that. As usual, I’m ambivalent about an actor I’ve long considered a “hidden jewel” gaining the popularity they deserve. Sometimes, maybe even often, an actor does his best work before the glare of the spotlight finds him and he becomes a tabloid regular. On the other hand, if more people had known who he was and had subsequently gone to see Warrior, he may not have been robbed of the awards-season attention he deserved. His Tommy Conlon breaks my heart every time I see it.

But I digress. 2014 will finally see the long awaited release of George Miller’s much delayed Mad Max reboot, Fury Road which also stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and a few stick bugs  Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Abby Lee and Riley Keough. At least that’s what we’re still being told. As of this writing, the movie has several weeks of reshoots scheduled for November.

“Not a good sign” you say? True, there have been nothing but bad omens surrounding this project since its first inception way back in 1985.  Mad Max: Fury Road was originally conceived to be the fourth Mad Max flick for Mel Gibson. For myriad reasons, too many to list here, including a couple of wars, that obviously didn’t happen. There was even talk of doing it as an animated film featuring Gibson’s voice. Again, no go. Writer/director Miller persevered, however, and reconfigured it as a reboot, eventually casting Hardy in 2010

The plague of production problems continued. When cameras were finally set to roll in 2011 in the Australian outback, unseasonable and heavy rains turned the area into the Garden of Eden instead of the “back of beyond” and new locations had to be secured. In the meantime the cast scattered to do other projects. When they finally got back together and cameras rolled in mid 2012, the film faced numerous shutdowns, budget over-runs (Warner Brothers sent suits to Africa to watchdog Miller), and charges from the Namibian government that the production permanently damaged indigenous plant life. Filming itself was physically grueling and took a toll on Hardy and Theron.  Now they’re facing nearly a month more of African filming.

There are conflicting reports as to whether these are actually “reshoots” or a planned sequence they were unable to get for various reasons the first time around.

That said, much like January and February release dates, reshoots aren’t necessarily the kiss of death that they once were. (World War Z springs to mind, since it’s still in theaters, as an example of another troubled production; one that turned out extremely well.) So if the movie is good, we may never know and no one will care. If it isn’t, then we can add it to the list of reasons why the movie failed.

Tom Hardy, Mad Max Fury Road, movie

source: AICN

In addition to the much ballyhooed Mad Max: Fury Road, 2014 will see not one, but two Tom Hardy films costarring Noomi Rapace.

Animal Rescue, written by Dennis Lehane from his own short story, is the English-language debut of Bullhead director Michael Roskam, about a lost pit bull, a wannabe scam artist, and a murder, (the cast also includes Bullhead star Matthias Schoenaerts and the late James Gandolfini in his final film), as well as the currently filming Child 44 from the novel by Tom Rob Smith. Set in the USSR during the Stalin-era, Hardy plays a disgraced MGB (Ministry for State Security – which preceded the KGB) agent sent to investigate a series of child murders in a country where crimes of this sort “did not exist”. He soon begins to connect the case with top party leadership. That one is directed by Daniel Espinosa who made his English debut with last year’s Safe House (Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds) but is best known in his native Sweden for Snabba Cash (Easy Money) with Joel “Robocop” Kinnaman. It also reteams Hardy with Gary Oldman.

At last we come to the film that, although it will more than likely see release next year, has actually debuted this year- last week in fact, at the Venice Film Festival.  Locke is a thriller that unfolds in “real time”, written and directed by Steven Knight and exec. produced by Joe Wright (director of Atonement, Anna Karenina etc) . Knight made his directorial debut with Redemption (original title Hummingbird) with Jason Statham (which got only a token release back in June here in the US, but hits DVD on September 24), but he’s also the writer responsible for the just released (and entertaining, but ultimately forgettable political thriller) Closed Circuit with Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana as well as two of my favorite movies of the past few years, Eastern Promises (dir. by David Cronenberg starring Viggo Mortensen) and Dirty Pretty Things (with Chiwitel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou, dir. by  Stephen Frears).

Just prior to doing the limbo under the radar and straight into Venice,  a first clip (not really a trailer – which you can see below) premiered late last month for Locke. Most people were probably wondering why they’d never heard of it. One reason? Knight’s spare, confined space drama (the action in the film never leaves the car and Hardy is in every frame), was shot over the course of just eight nights this past February.

Video removed because it “no longer exists”

“Based on an original screenplay from Knight, LOCKE is the story of one man’s life unraveling in a tension-fueled ninety minute race against time. Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) has the perfect family, his dream job, and tomorrow should be the crowning moment of his career. But one phone call will force him to make a decision that will put it all on the line.”**

There are other actors credited, including Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger, “Luther”), Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur, “Broadchurch”), Ben Daniels (“Law & Order: UK”, “House of Cards”), and Tom Holland (The Impossible), but they don’t get screen time. Only their voices will be heard. For the eight nights of filming, Hardy drove through and around London while the other the actors (stationed in a hotel) placed calls to his cell phone.

Conceived in November, filmed by February, and despite the fact that it was made for about $2 million and by seasoned professionals, this sounds a lot like guerilla filmmaking. Maybe Knight has established a new genre. Maybe Hardy and company are ‘upscale urban guerillas’.  Or not. I’m all in for this in any case. It will probably get a UK theatrical release via Lionsgate. Hopefully we’ll get to see it on this side of the ocean, if only on VOD.

Hardy also has six other announced titles in various stages of production, so eventually we will get to see him again in something. In the meantime maybe BBCAmerica will let us watch “Poaching Wars”. You could always catch up with some of Hardy’s earlier work like Bronson, Sweeney Todd (not the musical) or “Stuart: A Life Backwards” (if you can find it) or the BBC miniseries “The Virgin Queen” and “Oliver Twist” or even better, go rewatch Rocknrolla or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy again. If all else fails, and you really need a fix, there’s always This Means War. You can find the good parts on YouTube.

Here’s a clip of Tom (an Audi spokesman since 2008) driving another car and having a ball doing it:

(Frankly he could be driving a Big Wheel as long as he narrates the advert)

UPDATE 9/7/13: The North American distribution rights to Locke have just been acquired by A24 in the first major deal of the Toronto International Film Festival.

** IM Global/Anthem Press release from Berlin Film Festival, February 7, 2013

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