Movies don’t need to have big explosions or gun fights or dragons or robots to be exciting, and they don’t even need to have any more than one person onscreen to be moving and impactful; a good story is a good story no matter how you tell it. Steven Knight has decided to tell a very simple yet incredibly powerful story in this way for his film Locke, which is out on Blu-ray and digital download this week. In it, Tom Hardy plays a simple man in England who drives from pretty much the first moment until the last moment, and it’s one of the most compelling films I’ve seen in a long time. The power of a great central performance.
Hardy stars as Ivan Locke, described by many as “the most normal man in England.” He’s the foreman on a very important build site with American money behind it and we meet him the night before the concrete is to be poured for this, the biggest build of his career. However, he runs into a moral quandary when the woman with whom he had a one night stand calls and tells him she’s about to have his baby in London, which is several hours away. In a fateful and ultimately life-changing decision, Locke decides to drive to London and along the way call his wife and kids, who are expecting him home to watch a football match, his boss, and his second-in-command, and tell them that he won’t be around to do his job the next morning. This is very unlike him, and nobody knows it more than him.
That’s essentially the whole movie, but it’s amazingly taut and we feel Locke’s struggle both internally and externally the whole way. He is the only character we see for the whole 80 minutes and Hardy conveys all the torment with having his life fall apart in an instant whilst trying his hardest, via phone, to keep everything together. We can tell he’s ultimately a good man who will live with his choice either way, but doesn’t know if he is indeed making it correctly. The choice to give him a Welsh accent, which is a very soothing and lilty one, adds to his overall perceived “normal”-ness even as he spirals. In a career already marked with amazing performances in things like Bronson, Warrior, and yes, even as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy astounds yet again here. He’s easily one of the top 5 actors working today.
The Blu-ray is about as sparse as the film itself, with just a ten-minute making of, a few trailers, and a feature commentary with writer-director Knight, but they are all quite interesting and shed some light on this wholly unique project. With vocal performances from Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, and Ben Daniels, Locke is a sleek and lean movie well worth checking out.