Review: Locke (2014) Just Tom Hardy and a BMW on screen for 90 minutes and it's amazing

May 15, 2014


LOCKE (2014) Tom Hardy, Tom Holland (x), Bill Milner, Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson, Ben Daniels, Olivia Colman Directed by Steven Knight

Can one man on screen for 90 minutes captivate an audience and pull off a suspenseful film? Overwhelmingly yes but there are only a handful of actors that can pull off an achievement like this, Tom Hanks in Cast Away, Sam Rockwell in Moon, Ryan Reynolds in Buried, and most recently Robert Redford in All Is Lost, to just name a few. Joining that list is Tom Hardy in the new film from Steven Knight who wrote Dirty Pretty Things (2003) and Eastern Promises (2007).

Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a foreman overseeing the construction of a 55 story building in Birmingham where the largest concrete pour in Europe for a foundation is scheduled to take place the next morning. The film opens at nightfall as Locke gets in his BMW at the end of a long day but instead of heading home he gets on the English motorway to start a 90 minute drive to London. With his cell phone synched to his car via Bluetooth he starts receiving one call after another, first an emotional woman named Bethan (Olivia Colman), then his upset wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson), his kids Eddie (Tom Holland) and Sean (Bill Milner), co-worker Donal (Andrew Scott), and his boss Gareth (Ben Daniels).

Apart from a few shots of the exterior traffic with it's luminous headlights and scores of gleaming taillights, director Steven Knight keeps the camera focused on the car's interior and Tom Hardy's face. Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos uses the streetlights, the traffic, and the BMW's dash to illuminate the film and it's very effective, ultimately you feel like a passenger in the car observing this man's life falling apart.

Tom Hardy is a tour-de-force as we watch him handle each crisis with a sense of calmness, his Welsh accent assuring each caller that everything is going to be alright. This is acting in it's purest form with Hardy relying on his facial expressions and his voice to drive the scene. The score by Dickon Hinchliffe (Out Of The Furnace, Winter's Bone) sets the mood and helps generate the film's suspense. I didn't want to give too much away so I left out the details of Locke's conversations. The film also takes place in real time which gives the story it's authentic edge. You may not know Ivan Locke in the beginning but by the end of the film you'll have a pretty good idea about his character.

(4 stars)

*Now showing at the Landmark River Oaks Theater in Houston.