A Welsh Tom Hardy is about to have a very bad night.
The simple man-in-a-car concept of Steven Knight’s sophomore directorial outing, Locke, only really works as a superb showcase of Tom Hardy’s now-undeniable screen presence, making this one-man stage-play-style drama strangely compelling despite its minimalist design.Hardy plays a Welsh construction foreman, Ivan Locke, who receives a phone-call the night before a big concrete delivery is due, and is forced to abandon his work responsibilities and go on a long night drive from Birmingham to London, making a series of important phone calls along the way, many of which have a devastating impact on those close to him.Shot with a remarkably innovative style – considering the restrictive single-vehicle shooting location – this high concept feature marks a strong second outing for Knight, who previously attempted, only marginally successfully, to produce a non-standard Jason Statham vehicle with Hummingbird, and wrote both Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises, as well as creating the acclaimed TV series Peaky Builders.
Here he works with a miniscule budget, and draws everything out of his lead actor, bringing the rest of the cast – including Sherlock’s Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels (House of Cards) and the excellent Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur) – in using the carphone, but keeping the focus on Hardy, his voice, his manner, his mannerisms, his reactions, his simmering frustration, his emotion and his outbursts. It’s not a powerhouse performance, per se, but it is a very interesting, well-nuanced character dissection, and he keeps you hooked throughout.
Hardy could make watching paint dry compelling.
Perhaps that’s the positive and negative to Locke – it manages to keep you hooked despite the plot essentially being about relatively familiar family and relationship stresses, and... um... pouring concrete. It lends some weight to the notion that Hardy could actually make watching paint dry interesting, so long as he was narrating the event with the kind of vigour and committment he shows here. The downside, of course, is the sheer normality to the plot, which is hardly the ‘nail-biter’ that the poster would have you believe. It’s a small-scale picture, done extremely well, and featuring a standout central performance, but small nonetheless.
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