Brian Helgeland’s new film, Legend, treats the world to not one but two Tom Hardy performances. Counter-intuitively, adding a second Tom Hardy performance isn’t enough to counterbalance the film’s numerous shortcomings.
Fortitude flaunts its lofty ambitions before the title even adorns the screen: we’re immediately thrown into a forlorn icy tundra, with splashes of black staining the ubiquitous white landscape. The sun, a burning, bulbous orb, hangs in a haze in the sky. A man clad in arctic gear, carrying a rifle and a camera outfitted with a telescopic lens, traverses the scene. Before any words are spoken, a shrill scream carves through the wind, and the man, obviously no novice, pulls off his mask and draws his rifle. Played by Michael Gambon, he does not look well. Through the scope he sees a polar bear mauling a man. The man’s face is mottled in blood, his leg several feet from the rest of him. Gambon aims, and he puts one through the victim’s head. The first splash of color we see is red. Not more than five seconds later a car door slams—where did the car come from?— and a Sheriff with a beard the color of smoldering embers casually approaches. “Get out of here,” he tells Gambon. “Just go home.”
The Daleks aren’t going anywhere, but with massive Whovian Peter Capaldi’s Dalek story out of the way, they’ll hopefully go on hiatus for a while and take their tiresome plot retreads with them, leaving behind the significant structural and character-based improvements demonstrated here. It would seem many of the season eight premiere’s most prudent choices are here to stay; only two episodes into the Twelfth Doctor’s tenure, there’s already a lot to be excited about.
The Ninth Doctor is a tricky one. He often seems carefree and goofy, but this masks deep pain and rage. He’s fresh from the Time War and when confronted with a Dalek, his façade crumbles and he becomes unrecognizable to his Companion, Rose. The Ninth Doctor hates guns (except when faced with the Daleks) and has a slightly contentious, if light-hearted relationship with gunslinger Captain Jack. He always makes sure to give his adversaries the opportunity to leave peacefully, offering to help them find a non-violent solution to their needs (resources, space, etc.) and his joy at finding non-violent solutions is palpable. Like some of his predecessors, most notably the Fifth Doctor, the Ninth Doctor is somewhat taciturn, very still, and extremely thoughtful.