Tom Hardy in Locke (2013)


(director/writer: Steven Knight; cinematographer: Haris Zambarloukos; editor: Justine Wright; music: Dickon Hinchliffe; cast: Tom Hardy (Ivan Locke), Ruth Wilson (Katrina, wife), Olivia Colman (Bethan, the lover), Andrew Scott (Donal, crew chief), Ben Daniels (Gareth, the boss), Tom Holland (Eddie, son), Bill Milner (Sean), Danny Webb (Cassidy), Silas Carson (Dr. Gullu); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Paul Webster/Guy Heeley; A24; 2013)
Hardy gives a spellbinding performance.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

British filmmaker Steven Knight (“Redemption”), screenwriter for “Eastern Promises” and “Dirty Pretty Things,” is writer-director of this arty but gimmicky experimental thriller that’s set entirely in a BMW driven by a lone Welsh-accented man at night from Birmingham to London. It’s an urgent 90-minute drive, whereby the driver talks for 80-minutes into a hands-free car phone to an assortment of people whose voices are heard but they are never seen.

Tom Hardy plays construction manager Ivan Locke, who for the last nine-years works for a Chicago-owned firm that is putting up the biggest private concrete wall in Europe and he’s needed the next day to make the necessary concrete pour. Ivan is a devoted husband the last 15-years of wife Katrina (voice of Ruth Wilson) and father of two children, who on the eve of the biggest day in his career decides, after receiving a last-minute call, to be with a fragile woman (Olivia Colman), someone he hardly knows but feels sorry for without any love, who after a one-night stand is giving birth to his child. His reason is in order to do the right moral thing and give the child his name.

We listen to Ivan being pushed to the breaking point as he talks to his family, his lover, the bewildered crew chief (Andrew Scott), who will take his place doing the concrete pour, the flustered boss (Ben Daniels), and looks in the rear-view mirror to talk to the ghost of his neglectful father in the backseat. He can’t be talked out of his decision even if fired and destroying his family. Tom tells everyone he is just “trying to make it all okay.” But the long drive, matching the time of the film, gives way to a story that might seem real but is too thickly embellished with contrivances for comfort, and leaves us with a not too enticing resolution. Nevertheless, even if the plot let down is a sore point, Hardy gives a spellbinding performance and gives some oomph to such a minimalist work that it might have some appeal for those who care about concrete things.