In what is possibly his best performance to date, Tom Hardy stars in Locke, an almost painfully intimate tale of a man having what is most likely the worst day of his life. But was this a hell of his own making, or is he merely a victim of his ironclad, yet idiosyncratic sense of duty? My review of Locke after the jump.
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a construction foreman living in Birmingham, England with his wife (Ruth Wilson) and two sons (Tom Holland and Bill Milner). On the eve of a concrete pour which is set to be the biggest project of his career, Locke shirks his responsibilities and doggedly takes to the road on a long, fateful drive to London. With millions of dollars at stake and as his career and home life collapse around him, the normally dependable Locke grapples with his demons and tries to set things right.
Speaking in a soothing, almost hypnotically calm Welsh lilt for much of the film’s runtime, Hardy delivers a compelling portrait of a man on the verge of self-implosion who simply refuses to see the world in anything less than pure, unadulterated rationalism. This is most clear during the never-ending stream of phone conversations that Locke participates in with increasingly frantic colleagues and significant others who struggle to understand why he has acted the way he has. Here, as Locke explains his rationale in clear, coldly reasoned terms, we see glimpses of his true emotional state. We begin to see him fight back tears and utter a barely suppressed curse here and there as his rational façade gradually crumbles, only to be reinforced the next minute.
Hardy’s talent miraculously transforms the 85 minute film, which takes place entirely in Locke’s vehicle, into a well-paced, nail-biting affair as we wonder what will become of Locke. Shot in 8 days with the phone conversations taking place live (the other actors called Hardy and spoke their lines, as I learnt in a Q and A session with Guy Helley, one of the producers), Locke continually impresses as an exercise in minimalism and its evocation of the radio-drama format. There are also echoes of Michael Mann’s Collateral, but with far less shoot-outs and grey-haired assassins played by Tom Cruise. Though some may be turned off by the film’s steadfast devotion to remaining low-key, there is great power in a film that manages to say so much while working with so little.
By Johnson Hii
Director: Steven Knight
Writer(s): Steven Knight
Starring: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott
Runtime: 85 minutes