Tom Hardy


Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) is approaching rarefied air, that upper echelon of filmmaking where greatness is expected. With no obvious missteps in his impressive repertoire, his subject matter has been varied yet consistent. When extolling the virtues of film, I often cite its ability to educate and inform rather than merely entertain. In Dunkirk, Nolan masterfully brings to screen a significant but relatively unknown (at least to me) World War II battle. The quintessential auteur, Nolan has given us a beautiful film, both in spirit and aesthetic.

It’s the dawn of World War II and German forces have driven the British (and a few French allies) to the outskirts of Dunkirk, France, pressing them towards the beach along the northern coastline. Approximately 300,000 soldiers are stranded, making easy prey for passing bomber planes or foes approaching by sea. Just as 300 introduced me to the Battle of Thermopylae, Dunkirk educated me on the similarly harrowing Battle of France. That battle would eventually become a rescue and evacuation mission code-named Operation Dynamo. It may seem antithetical to describe a war film as beautiful, but the visual elements of the film were stunning. Nolan’s austere backdrop was captured perfectly on 70 mm film, the wider format adding an extra layer of realism while immersing the viewer.

The film is told from three distinct perspectives, beginning with Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a young British soldier who finds himself stranded at Dunkirk after narrowly escaping from behind enemy lines. The second perspective belongs to civilian Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies) and his sons George and Peter, private citizens courageously responding to their country’s call to action. The third viewpoint is shown from the perspective of two fighter pilots, Farrier (Tom Hardy, The Revenant) and Collins (Jack Lowden, England is Mine), who don’t hesitate to enter the fray despite being low on fuel, changing course to head into what seems like sure disaster.

War films represent a diverse genre that I’ve come to appreciate over the years. From Saving Private Ryan to Platoon, the genre has consistently raised questions of morality and explored the psychological consequences of warfare, from the grief at losing a comrade to the ethical questions faced when atrocities are committed in the name of patriotism. Some war films focus on battle where others delve into the impact of war on the human psyche. Dunkirk was unique in its brilliant bifurcation of the narrative, fleshing out each character’s emotional motivation as they converged on the beach in successive heart-stopping intervals. War films often show strength in the form of violence or brute force, but there is tremendous quiet strength in just surviving. The ability to simply endure is as human a quality as there is, and Nolan captured this beautifully through Tommy and his dogged will live to live.

Nolan is sort of the anti-Tarantino here, utilizing sparse dialogue and relying more on atmosphere and the attendant action of an epic narrative. He showed two sides of the human spirit: one characterized by hope, resilience and valor, the other fraught with a sense of futility and resignation to an inevitable fate. Each act of survival was a minor miracle, and the emotional resonance of the film cannot be denied. Dunkirk was amazing in its portrayal of the human spirit and in its understated visual simplicity. Buoyed by strong performances (including newcomer Harry Styles), deft direction, and incredibly inspiring source material, Dunkirk lives up to the hype and further solidifies Christopher Nolan as one of best filmmakers to emerge in recent memory. Grade: A

The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) is at an interesting stage of his career. He’s been turning in critically acclaimed performances since 1993’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, with no obvious missteps in his impressive catalogue. He has been nominated for an Academy Award for acting four times, though he has never taken home a golden statue. It’s becoming somewhat of a running joke that he hasn’t won; and it shouldn’t be. After viewing The Revenant, I can say that he’s turned in arguably the performance of his career, and hopefully that elusive award is within his grasp.

DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass, a weather-beaten trapper traversing the brutal frontier of 1820’s Midwestern America. We meet Glass and his fellow men as they fend off an attack from Native Americans, their party whittled down to just over a dozen men. This early scene sets the tone, as the men are equally vulnerable to both the harsh landscape and its native inhabitants. Glass faces an early challenge from fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, Mad Max: Fury Road), who doubts his navigational abilities and questions his leadership quite disrespectfully. He insults Glass and his teenaged son Hawk (newcomer Forrest Goodluck), whose Pawnee mother was murdered when he was just a boy. Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson, Ex Machina) acts as peacemaker, leading the decimated outfit while deferring to Glass as the more seasoned frontiersman.

While exploring the dense forest, Glass spies a pair of bear cubs. The mother isn’t far behind, and before he can fire a musket, she pounces viciously, instinctively protecting her young. The relentless grizzly slings a helpless Glass to and fro, mauling him mercilessly. This is the scene you’ve probably heard about, and it was incredible. Director Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman, 21 Grams) had me riveted, effectively employing creative camera angles and use of sound to transport the viewer alongside DiCaprio. We see, hear and feel what he does. As the beast heaves in and out the camera lens fogs with condensation, the fear primal and palpable.

After surviving the brutal attack, Glass’ men stitch him up as best they can. Realizing it’s impossible to carry him on a makeshift stretcher while climbing a steep, snowy mountain ridge, they agree that Hawk, Fitzgerald and a young trapper named Bridger (Will Poulter, The Maze Runner) will stay behind with the ailing Glass.  I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers, but if you simply consult the definition of revenant, you can deduce what happens when Fitzgerald is left to care for Glass. According to Merriam Webster, a revenant is one that returns after death or a long absence.

Inarritu has crafted a stunning film.  He extracted every ounce of ability from DiCaprio, down to the bone marrow. I’ve never seen an actor give so much of his body to a performance. Much in the way a prizefighter gives his body to his craft, DiCaprio completely immersed himself in the role of Hugh Glass. He was tender, vulnerable, physically and emotionally spent under the sheer weight of what he was called to do. He caught the flu several times while filming, consumed raw bison liver, and slept in an animal carcass. We’re accustomed to seeing actors transform themselves physically for roles, but this was different. DiCaprio didn’t alter his physique, but he endured tremendous physical hardship, and his performance was a revelation.

The landscape was ironically beautiful yet brutal, a brilliant juxtaposition Inarritu depicted masterfully. In one scene the snow swirled like interplanetary dust, one breathtaking scene of many. Moreover, I don’t usually pay attention to sound in film, but here it added to an overall feeling of visceral authenticity. Glass faced deadly internal and external conflict, battling the elements, animals and indigenous people alike. Inarritu harkened back to a period in American history influenced by the transcendentalism espoused by the likes of Thoreau and Emerson, capturing an aesthetic that belied the occasionally spiritual relationship between man and nature.  I could blather indefinitely about this film, a work of art. The Revenant is the first must-see film of 2016. Grade: A


Mad Max: Fury Road

Wow. I saw Mad Max: Fury Road about a week ago and as time passes I like it more and more. The trailer mildly intrigued me with its eye-popping cinematography, bolstered by the promise of Tom Hardy (The Drop) and Charlize Theron (A Million Ways To Die in the West), both of whom have been impressive in action-packed roles. I was just a little shorty doo-wop when the 1985 iteration of Mad Max was released, so I’d never seen the post-apocalyptic desert tale. Sci-Fi is not my favorite genre, but it felt lazy to just dismiss Fury Road as being similar to the explosive tripe we’ve come to expect from Michael Bay recently –although there was no shortage of explosions. Undoubtedly this movie won’t be for everyone, but it was a weirdly awesome treat, a beautiful, minimalist non-stop ride.

Mad Max was unique in that there was little dialogue and not much overt plot development. A few early, key scenes clued me in to the overall plot, and the rest of the movie just flowed naturally from its initial premise. Hardy stars as the titular Max, while Theron is Imperator Furiosa, aligned with the evil Immortan Joe, a ruler who emerged after an apocalypse decimated the earth leaving only sand behind. Fuel and water are at a premium, and Joe lords the precious commodities over the poverty-stricken lower class. Joe enslaves the people he rules and even those he holds closer, having a harem of young women with whom he procreates.

When Max escapes Joe’s clutches, he sends his gang of minions out to retrieve him. Furiosa has been dispatched, but inexplicably veers off course. The rogue Furiosa and desperate Max become unexpected allies, both railing against crippling oppression. Furiosa has Joe’s harem in tow, liberating the young women while searching for her homeland, a utopia known as the Green Place, where water and life abound. The movie is largely one big pursuit, as Max and Furiosa traverse a vast stretch of desert, beautiful while reflecting the barrenness of the times.

Mad Max was intense, characterized by the stark punk rocker imagery of the characters and their desperate, survivalist behavior. It was a visceral experience with nary a moment of calm. There were no lulls in the movie, and my senses were assaulted for nearly two hours. Director George Miller masterfully depicted futuristic warfare while employing modern twists on traditional elements of the battlefield. During the Revolutionary War, colonial soldiers may have marched forward while sounding a war drum or bugle. Here, Immortan Joe employs a rocker affixed to the front of his vehicle, shredding away on a blaring electric guitar. Awesome.

Here, the landscape was just as much of a character as Max and Furiosa. The setting was one of the most stunning aspects of the film, and there was a weird paradox at play. The desert shows no sign of vitality. Yet it’s coppery beauty was something to behold, utterly mesmerizing. If you think weird is good, this is the movie for you. There was literally never a dull moment, and I felt like I got my money’s worth. It was a visual treat not to be missed. Grade: A

The Drop

As the summer movie season draws to a close, I look forward to better offerings in the fall. I’m optimistic about the films slated for release in the coming weeks, from Gone Girl to Kill the Messenger. I was disappointed with the summer selection, and it looks like studios are featuring some weightier movies in the next few months. The Drop’s trailer appeared promising, with multi-faceted Tom Hardy (Locke) alongside James Gandolfini (Enough Said) in his final film.

Writer David Lehane’s source material has given us some heavy, emotionally rich films like Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, and the same melancholy, gritty undertones of the working class were present in The Drop. Lehane adapted the screenplay from one of his short stories, and the movie pulsated with moments of electricity, despite an overall quiet tone. Of course, in criminal parlance, a “drop” refers to a place where illegal money is exchanged for a criminal act, or “job.” Enter ordinary man Bog Saginawski (Hardy), a solitary guy whose low-level criminal activities belie a warm heart. He works at a neighborhood bar called Cousin Marv’s, owned by Gandolfini’s character in name only.

Marv’s bar doubles as a drop spot for the local mob, a no-nonsense group of Chechens who ousted him as owner a decade prior. He runs a tight ship, keeping Bob in line and reminding him of whose name is on the door. The movie opens with Bob narrating an overview of the way money changes hands in New York’s underworld, especially at night and especially at places like Marv’s. We watch as Bob discreetly receives mysterious brown envelopes from an assortment of crooks and hustlers; and it’s business as usual until two armed, masked men hold up the bar one night as Marv and Bob are closing.

The film follows the aftermath of the robbery, as Bob and Marv contend with the police and the mob. An interesting subplot emerges when Bob develops a friendship with a neighboring woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace, Prometheus) after they discover an abused pit bull puppy. The adorable puppy was a recurring use of symbolism throughout the movie, representing the duality of the vicious breed and the innocence of a baby. Bob’s character somewhat mirrored the dog’s, as his simple, peaceful exterior obscured a more brutal survival instinct.

I was drawn in by the performances, and I’m beginning to think Hardy is incapable of a bad showing. His character does a 180, but the shift felt authentic rather than disingenuous. He had a fraternal chemistry with Gandolfini and plaintive tenderness with Rapace as they were threatened by a menacing ex-lover from her past.The film was suspenseful and effectively dramatic throughout, although it lagged here and there. Patient viewers will be rewarded in the final act, where the plot twists unexpectedly. The trailer is a bit misleading, so you should be forewarned that this is a definitely an “indie” movie with a subdued tone. It won’t make much of a splash at the box office, but The Drop is worth checking out. Grade: B


I believe the hallmark of a good actor is range. Versatility keeps your performances fresh and gives audiences something to look forward to. To that end, I find Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) one of the most versatile, talented actors around. He’s adept at romantic roles and action movies alike. One minute he is giving Batman hell, the next he’s wooing Reese Witherspoon. I haven’t been disappointed by any of his movies…until now.

Locke gives us a night in the life of Ivan Locke, a construction planner who is in for a very late, difficult evening. Instead of heading home as planned for a fun night with his wife Katrina and two sons, he is diverted out of town to witness the birth of his illegitimate child. He cheated on his wife the previous year with a co-worker named Bethan, the tryst resulting in a pregnancy. Instead of confessing to his wife, he’s remained silent until now, after Bethan goes into labor earlier than expected. We see Ivan make a series of phone calls to various people, including Katrina and Bethan. He also speaks extensively with a co-worker and with his boss, as his unexpected change of plans threatens to deter an important launch for his company.

It may seem like I’ve revealed a lot about the plot; but this is probably not a movie you’ll be seeing anyway, unless you’re a big fan of Hardy. The entire film consists of Locke in his car, driving to the hospital to see Bethan. The other characters are heard but not pictured. For all but five minutes of the film, we are watching Locke behind the wheel of his BMW, using the vehicle’s hands-free calling. The static environment was confining, and while Hardy’s acting was superb – it’s difficult to watch a character engage in such mundane activity for an hour and a half. Moreover, Hardy is literally the only character we see in the film. We can’t witness him interact with other characters in the traditional sense, which adds to the sense of confinement.

There were some elements of the movie I found effective, namely the fine job by Hardy. His range is impeccable, and he brought a sense of righteousness to the character, despite his abject infidelity. He has the requisite talent to carry a film. Furthermore, the film relies on the strength of verbal and audio performances, as we hear but never see the people with whom Locke is involved. This was not a passive viewing experience, as I found myself oddly engaged yet wanting the movie to be over. It took me about 45 minutes to realize that no climactic event was forthcoming.

Past movies have successfully employed some of the aspects of the film that didn’t quite work here for writer/director Steven Night (Eastern Promises). There have been movies that featured a solitary character (I Am Legend), a static setting (Phone Booth), or have relied heavily on a character’s voice (Her). But those movies either had varied settings or were infinitely more exciting than watching a person talk and drive. I can appreciate subtlety as much as the next person, but only to a point. The concept was interesting, but I thought it would have made a better short film. The plot wore thin pretty quickly. If you’re having trouble sleeping, this movie should do the trick. Grade: C


Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight) has recently emerged as the latest “it” guy in Hollywood.  I first viewed him in Guy Ritchie’s gangster drama RocknRolla, and although I found him charming in his supporting role, I was unaware there was such underlying talent.  He’s gone on to star alongside some notable names, and that trend will probably only continue in the future.   His role in the The Dark Knight Rises as super villain Bane cemented his movie star status, and he’s one to watch for me.

Lawless is based on the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers, as told in the novel The Wettest County in the World, written by one of the Bondurant descendants.  The brothers were bootleggers in Prohibition Era Virginia, proving to be murderously resilient and nearly indestructible.  Forrest (Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) are the two eldest brothers, fearless and violent.  Jack (Shia LaBeouf, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon) is the youngest boy and more naïve to the ways of the bootlegging world.  He is sensitive and green to the criminal lifestyle, though he is anxious to earn more responsibility from his brothers in their enterprise.  His days are spent pining away for the local minister’s daughter, played with youthful innocence by Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right).  A lot of people think Shia is overrated, but I think he does a good job as the well-meaning kid who is in over his head.  It’s a common refrain in his roles, and I think his characters are mostly endearing and relatable.  However, since he conveys the same sentiment in most of his roles – if you disliked him in one you probably disliked him in nearly all of his movies.

Things are rolling along relatively smoothly for the Bondurant Boys, until they run up against a thorny roadblock.  There’s a new sheriff in town (Guy Pearce, Lockout), and he upsets the apple cart by trying to shake them down.  When they refuse to be muscled, the Deputy retaliates against the weakest of the tribe, Jack.  Forrest in particular is not to be trifled with, as the legend of his immortality is so great that he actually believes it himself.  He has survived beatings and several nearly fatal incidents that have convinced the locals that he can’t be killed.  Deputy Rakes wouldn’t dare screw with Forrest just yet, but wants to send a message that he intends to go toe to toe over the spoils of his illegal activity.  Lawless is largely a vehicle for Hardy, and it’s almost like ‘badass’ is in his DNA.  This makes three movies where his character is simply one that is NOT to be fucked with (the first two are Bronson and TDKR if you were wondering).  Despite the aforementioned quality, there is evidence of a softer side, as he ultimately becomes involved with a young woman named Maggie who comes to work for them (Jessica Chastain, The Help).  Forrest is not violent for violence’s sake, but he has no qualms about defending himself by any means necessary.   Maggie appreciates the rugged simplicity that marks his personality, but also reveals a more compassionate side of Forrest.  He is so gentle with her that she even has to make all the moves the first time they sleep together, and his manner with her is sweet without contradicting his ruthless ambition.

Lawless was very entertaining throughout, and it’s pretty awesome that it’s based on a true story.  The story of the Bondurants was ripe for re-telling, though I’ve heard that some of the surviving family members aren’t too happy with their family’s portrayal.  At any rate, Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf gave very solid performances, bolstered by strong supporting turns by Waskikowska and Chastain.  Young actor Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) also gave a strong turn as Jack’s best friend Cricket, who becomes caught up in the war between Rakes and the Bondurants.  In short, Tom Hardy’s on a roll, and Lawless is one to see.  Grade: A

The Dark Knight Rises

Whenever I review movies that the fan boys love, I have to issue disclaimers.  As I’ve stated before, the only thing I claim to be passionate and knowledgeable about are movies.  If a movie was based on a novel, I may or may not have read that novel. That being said, I didn’t grow up reading comic books.  So I don’t approach The Dark Knight Rises as a person who is checking for accuracy or wants to make sure director Christopher Nolan “gets it right.”  The only measuring stick for me is other movies: other “superhero” movies and the first two Batman movies of Nolan’s trilogy.  I was looking forward to it because The Dark Knight, Nolan’s last edition – was simply outstanding.  It’s one of my favorite movies, and I saw it three times in the theater.  I also think that Christopher Nolan (Memento, Inception) is brilliant, so I’m inclined to see nearly anything he’s attached to (within reason).

When we last saw the Caped Crusader (Christian Bale, The Fighter), he was allowing Harvey Dent to live on in the hearts of Gotham as a hero.  Although Dent devolved into the nefarious Two-Face and held Commissioner Gordon’s son at gunpoint, Batman sacrificed his own reputation rather than shatter the city’s image of its fallen district attorney.  Sacrifice is the recurring theme throughout the trilogy, as Batman selflessly gives his all for Gotham’s residents, though the city doesn’t always appreciate him.  Eight years have elapsed since that fateful night where Dent and Batman swapped destinies, and Bruce Wayne has been a recluse ever since.  Having lost the love of his life and been vilified by many, he has been holed up in his mansion, and Wayne Industries has suffered significant financial losses.  This is where we find our hero, down and quite possibly out for the count.  The time is ripe for any one of the comic’s infamous rogues gallery to emerge and wreak havoc while Gotham is vulnerable.  The city passed The Dent Act, which resulted in the incarceration of many dangerous criminals – but the drop in crime lulls Gotham’s residents into a false sense of security.  That coupled with Batman’s prolonged absence leaves Gotham vulnerable, setting the stage for our latest villain.

Enter Bane (Tom Hardy, This Means War, Inception), successor to The Joker and Two-Face as Gotham’s newest tormentor.  Bane can best be described as a wrecking ball with legs.  He is simply massive, and ably portrayed by Tom Hardy in what is probably his most brutal role since his turn as a notorious British prisoner in Bronson.  Bane escaped from prison and subsequently organized a coup, funded by American businessman John Daggett, a competitor of Bruce Wayne.  Daggett brings Bane to the United States so that he can obtain a clean energy reactor held by Wayne Enterprises and turn it into a nuclear weapon.  Bane’s plan will come to fruition unless the Batman ends his self-imposed exile and more importantly proves himself a worthy adversary of the most physically imposing villain he’s ever faced.

I don’t want to fall into a recitation of the entire plot; nor do I want to give away too much.  There were many plot twists and turns, and several very good performances. The Dark Knight Rises delved deeper into Bruce Wayne’s psyche.  He wasn’t just reacting to things happening around him, rather we see him in a prolonged state of despair, pain, and defeat.  I felt like we journeyed with him as the familiar senses of justice and duty were rekindled within.  This time around we are also treated to Catwoman, played by Anne Hathaway (Love & Other Drugs, The Devil Wears Prada).  Hathaway is a very good actress and I thought she balanced the role perfectly.  Not too campy and corny, strong enough to help Batman instead of merely requiring his rescue.  While I didn’t grow up reading the comic books, I did watch the cartoon series that aired in the 90s.  I remember that Catwoman was a bit “on the fence.”  She wasn’t always Batman’s ally, but she wasn’t out to foil him at every turn, like The Riddler or The Joker.  The same was true of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, as she betrays Batman one minute and saves him the next.  Also featured were strong supporting roles by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 500 Days of Summer) and Marion Cotillard (Contagion).  Gordon-Levitt plays an idealistic young police officer that was orphaned as a youth, much like Bruce Wayne.  He instinctively knows Batman’s true identity and gently implores him to help Gotham.  Cotillard was effective as Wayne’s business investor, brief love interest, and…I won’t tell you anything else about her.  You’re welcome.

The best thing about the film was the way Nolan captured the atmosphere of a city on the brink of anarchy.  It always felt like something big was about to happen, at any minute.  But brace yourselves, because this was not “the best movie ever,” as people born in the 1990s might have you believe.  Pump. Those. Brakes.  This wasn’t the best movie made or even the best superhero movie ever made, because it wasn’t superior to The Dark Knight, in my opinion.  How can you be the best movie ever made when you’re not even the best installment of your own trilogy?  The Dark Knight had a more complex villain with a richer backstory and a more layered performance.  I’m not knocking Tom Hardy, and I’m not saying there is anything more that he could or should have done.  Nor am I saying there’s anyone who could have done it better.  I’m just saying it was different, that’s all.  Additionally, The Dark Knight explored deeper psychological themes, and I thought Two-Face nearly stole the show.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy came close, but there was no secondary performance that really jumped out at me.  But you know what?  Forget all of that, I can give you a very simple complaint that I had with the film: I couldn’t even understand what Bane was saying the whole time!  I know I’m not the only one who strained to decipher the dialogue when he spoke.  I liked the inflection of Hardy’s voice, and I noticed an almost imperceptible West Indian accent creep through.  When I researched his role after the movie I discovered that he did draw on his Caribbean (who knew?) heritage in the interpretation of the part.  That’s impressive, and it didn’t go unnoticed – but I couldn’t always understand what he was saying!

Of course I think you should go see The Dark Knight Rises, what are you stupid?  Nothing should stop you from seeing it; it will probably be the biggest movie of the year.  Some movies just feel big.  They feel like an experience.  I’m sure it will obliterate existing opening day records, despite the tragic shooting that took place at the midnight screening in Colorado earlier this week.  Now that the trilogy has concluded (Nolan’s not doing any more), I can safely say that it’s probably the greatest trilogy.  But don’t confuse that with me saying that The Dark Knight Rises is the greatest movie.  It’s not, for the aforementioned reasons.  But it was damn good. Grade: A.

This Means War

I’m proud to be an American, but the quickest way to turn me off from something is to dub it “America’s fill-in-the-blank.”  For example, “America’s Team” would be the Dallas Cowboys.  Or maybe the New England Patriots.  Either way – I ain’t with it.  Similarly, we’re fond of calling people “America’s Sweetheart.”  I’m not a fan of the expression or what it represents.  Take “America’s Sweetheart,” Julia Roberts.  I’m over her; she doesn’t get a pass for mediocre movies or that obnoxious toothy laugh.  However, there is one notable exception to my disdain for all things patriotic.  Reese Witherspoon – one of America’s Sweethearts who doesn’t annoy me.  Plus she played Tracy Flick in Election, so she can’t be that much of a goody two shoes.  Check that one out on DVD if you haven’t seen it, especially if you’re a fan of black comedy.

I was curious about her latest movie, an entrant into the relatively unique action rom-com genre.  If you don’t know what an action romantic comedy is, think Mr. & Mrs. Smith.   I digress.  Witherspoon (Water for Elephants) stars alongside Chris Pine (Unstoppable) and Tom Hardy (Warrior) in This Means War, a spy vs. spy movie that ended up being pretty entertaining.  Best friends Tuck and FDR are CIA agents who discover that they are casually dating the same woman; a cute thirty-something named Lauren who is none the wiser.  Being the competitive chaps that they are, Tuck and FDR refuse to back off and defer to each other.  They lay down some ground rules, and the game is on.   As secret agents they bring all of their espionage talents to bear, complete with high-tech gadgetry.  Unbeknownst to their boss (played by the wonderful Angela Bassett), they use Agency resources to take cock blocking to unprecedented levels, complete with surveillance and wiretaps.  Lauren genuinely is interested in both guys for different reasons.  Tuck is nice, humble and sweet, while FDR is brash and cocky.  Advising Lauren every step of the way is her sister Trish, played by the hilarious Chelsea Handler in her big screen debut.

Witherspoon’s character was relatable and endearing.  Lauren needed to be capable of making two guys battle each other tooth and nail for a shot with her.  Considering that most men hate to lose, it wasn’t a far-fetched idea.  Tom Hardy continues to impress me with the wide range of roles he accepts.  He’s quite versatile, capable of being both a romantic leading man and a diabolical villain (check him out in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises).  Chris Pine doesn’t really do it for me, but I understood his character’s appeal.  Everyone had good chemistry with each other, both comedic and romantic (not the two guys, obviously).  The movie doesn’t sacrifice Tuck and FDR’s friendship either, supporting the old adage of bros before garden tools.  To sum it up, this was a great date movie.  It has a little something for men and women alike.  Grade: B