From mythical movies to maniacal roles, playing the only visible character in a film to playing two in the same one, Tom Hardy has done just about everything in his still-short career.
He’s worked with unorthodox auteurs (Nicolas Winding-Refn) and box office kings (Christopher Nolan), and built up quite the resume in the process. But what is the best Tom Hardy film? Well, there’s quite a few titles to choose from.
For this list, we compiled all the movies in which the British actor has starred or co-starred as a major character. Some notable exclusions were made, including the Gerard Butler-starring RocknRolla, simply because he didn’t have a big enough role (sorry, Handsome Bob).
To be clear, this is a ranking of Hardy’s movies, not his performances. With that out of the way, let’s get started with ugliest of the bunch.
It’s hard to believe Hardy could be in something this bad, especially this close to the rise of his career.
The movie portrays the fight against the mythical Minotaur by the brave Theseus (Hardy), or Theo. Except, in a lazy attempt to add stakes, Theo enters the Minotaur dwelling to save his girlfriend, who’d been given as a sacrifice to the beast.
Hardy had already portrayed his infamous role in Star Trek: Nemesis four years before this film and was two years away from his breakthrough performance in Bronson.
In between was this SyFy Channel-esque film that supplied plenty of mythical intrigue simply by existing. But it had the typical low-budget look to go with it and didn’t try to hide it with darkness. Even worse is that the script was more unbelievable to hear than the computer graphics were to see.
And though Hardy has elevated such movies as Bronson and Lawless with his performances, not even he could save this bland depiction.
18. Deserter (Legion of Honor)
Hardy cut his teeth with limited roles in war projects, first in two episodes of Band of Brothers, and then in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down.
Deserter, a story following the internal struggle of two battle-hardened French Foreign Legionnaires, came right after. It’s safe to say it’s no BHD.
The performances are of a true Hollywood standard. But that’s about where the compliments end. The film’s direction and camera work are equally shaky, and the editing doesn’t follow the otherwise ruthless action all that well.
The film tries too hard to emotionally connect audience-to-character, and the script is a tasteless smorgasbord. Hardy made it sound as good as he could.
17. LD 50 Lethal Dose
The title certainly isn’t catchy, and there’s not much memorable about LD 50 anyway.
Hardy’s role in the film is involved just enough to add to this list. And he stands head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. But that’s not hard to do with Melanie Brown (AKA Scary Spice) being the most recognizable name besides him. And boy, does she ever need to stick to her musical talents.
The story is about an activist group that saves animals from scientific experimentation. But when they lose one of their own members—who becomes experimented on—they try to devise a plan to save him.
This film has plenty of potential, as any Tom Hardy movie would. But there’s nothing colorful, unique, or even sympathetic about these characters. Their writing has no life to it, and that carries over into the rest of the film.
16. This Means War
Hardy has never been scared to go outside the box and experience new genres. Whether it’s a big Christopher Nolan sci-fi or a small British spy flick, he blends in like a chameleon but also commands the audiences’ attention.
But This Means War brought him into an action rom-com genre that doesn’t suit him all that well. And he deserved a lot better than this trash.
This Means War is about two CIA ops (Hardy and Chris Pine) who begin an intense rivalry against one another when they realize they’re seeing the same woman (Reese Witherspoon).
These three actors all have charm, charisma, and humorous touches. They’re just non-existent in this film. And relying on McG to deliver a combination of these things anytime after the mid-2000’s was pretty much hopeless.
All three leads would thankfully recover from this film. But there’s no doubt it took great performances in Warrior, Lawless, and The Dark Knight Rises right around the same time to help pull Hardy through.
15. Sucker Punch
No, we’re not talking about the Zack Snyder Sucker Punch. Hopefully we’ll never have to speak on that. But this film isn’t at all superior to it.
The movie centers around the teaming of a con-man and a bare-knuckle boxer who become a powerful duo in the underworld of illegal fighting.
Hardy’s performance as Rodders is almost small enough not to include on the list. It almost seems as if he’s in a different movie than the rest of the cast, and that’s probably the best compliment in this film.
The movie has a few chuckles spread through it, but not enough to carry it through the clunky dialogue and deliveries of the cast. The humor is for the most part low on intelligence, and the funniest part of it all may be how cheaply shot it is. It’s almost weird seeing Hardy in such low quality.
14. Star Trek: Nemesis
For any life-long Star Trek fans, cover your eyes now.
Nemesis certainly isn’t close to the worst film on the Hardy list, but it is what killed off The Next Generation film series. It had by far the lowest box office numbers ($43.3M domestically), was one of the worst titles in terms of critics’ scores, and probably didn’t come close to matching its filming ($60M) and marketing budgets.
Nemesis starts with the Enterprise on their way to potential peace talks with the Romulans. Of course, that quickly goes south when Romulan leader Shinzon (Hardy) has his sights set on attacking Earth.
The film’s ideas are in the right place. Its messages of peace are still very much in place. There’s just far too many worn elements of past Star Trek adventures. And repetitiveness breeds dullness, something not even the over-the-top Hardy can fix.
His villainous Shinzon is certainly that, although there is a depth and confliction present in him. It’s just never fully realized.