Like a lot of you, when I first saw Tom Hardy incept things in "Inception," I fell in love.
And yes, I know he was in "Bronson" before that and that I simply MUST see it, but I haven't yet. A suave badass with pillowy lips that wasn't Angelina Jolie? Sign me up. I've nodded in breathless approval as he continued to take roles in movies like "Warrior" and "Dark Knight Rises," happy that my lust for Tom Hardy: Effortless Badass could continue in peace.And then I watched this:
Tom Hardy and Chris Pine as some type of CIA assassins competing for the affections of Reese Witherspoon? What? Did I miss something? When did Hollywood decide to remake "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with two men? (Side note: Tom Hardy and Chris Pine ending up with each other at the end is the only way I'd be OK with this movie.)
Why are we so hepped up to take our Hollywood badasses and make them romcom Leading Men? This was not an issue 40 years ago. You'd never catch Bruce Lee, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen in a lighthearted romp about babysitting or falling in love with a veterinarian.
Sure they were typecast, and sure -- sometimes they made the odd, ill-conceived romance. (Bold tag: ill conceived.) But the reason to see a movie starring any one of them is that you knew you were going to see badass things, occurring regularly. Maybe that got boring for them, but this is your job, guys, and I need you to do your job. I don't know who's to blame for the romcommification of my heroes, but I think I'm going to place that mantle on Robert De Niro. His badassness was eternal, so when he played a catatonic man in "Awakenings," I forgave him for his Oscar fishing and let it go, waiting for him to go back to being a wronged police captain who might be a criminal. But "Awakenings" was to be followed by "Analyze This," "Analyze That," all those Focker movies, "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" (for God's sake) and "Everybody's Fine." Everbody's not fine!
It used to be a crazy aberration to see one of our action heroes changing a diaper or wrangling with a feisty housecat, so crazy that we found ourselves buying tickets just for the spectacle, but now, it's become the norm. As soon as an actor arrives as a badass action star, the next step is to make him a put-upon department store clerk with too many kids to babysit! Because while De Niro had built up enough cred to take himself down a few notches and still be fine, the same cannot be said for Gerard Butler. That man jumped out of his 300 costume and into the warm, predictable arms of Katharine Hiegl so fast that him spit-screaming "THIS. IS. SPARTA!" seems like a faraway dream that I had. So to Tom Hardy, I say please, sir. Please no more romcoms.
Some things in cinema need to remain sexy, grizzled, and -- I'll say it -- sacred.
Action is one of them. Let's keep it clean.