Locke (R15)

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Review byMatthew Turner27/02/2014

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

Impressively directed, superbly written and featuring a terrific central performance, this is an intensely gripping and powerfully emotional drama, all of which is pretty remarkable, considering that the entire movie consists of Tom Hardy talking on his phone while driving to Croydon.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Steven Knight (Hummingbird), Locke stars a Welsh accented Tom Hardy as building foreman Ivan Locke, who gets in his car and begins a 90 minute drive from Birmingham to Croydon the evening before he's meant to be overseeing the biggest concrete pour in Europe. As he drives, he juggles several different work-related phone calls: he calls his dumb-founded boss (Ben Daniels) to tell him he won't be able to be there tomorrow, then he calls his jittery second-in-command (Andrew Scott) to talk him through the various last-minute tasks he needs to do.

At the same time, Locke makes a number of personal calls that shed light on his decision to drive to London: he's heading for a hospital to be there for a panicky middle-aged work colleague (Olivia Colman), who is having his baby after a moment of weakness at a drunken party. He then has to call his wife (Ruth Wilson) and his two sons (Tom Holland and Bill Milner) to explain what's going on and to attempt to save his marriage after his wife reacts to his confession.

The Good
Tom Hardy (wearing chunky knitwear again, for those who like that sort of thing) is terrific as Locke, giving a mesmerising performance as an intensely moral man who's determined to do the right thing. As the film progresses, we understand that Locke has a reputation as an efficient and extremely practical man who gets things done and it's fascinating to watch him try and solve a multitude of problems without even raising his voice; this is also where the Welsh accent comes into its own, as his measured tones and rich speaking voice have an appealingly soothing effect on both the audience and the other characters.

Needless to say, this is Hardy's film through and through, as he's on screen for every second of its 85 minute running time, but there's strong support from Wilson, the ever-excellent Colman and Scott, who adds a note of humour as the panic-stricken second-in-command who admits he might have had a couple of drinks on the job.

The Great
Knight maintains a decent pace, keeping things tightly focussed on the inside of Locke's car, with the occasional glimpse of night-time exterior landscapes through windscreen reflections and so on. In addition, the script exerts a tight emotional grip throughout, ratcheting up the tension to nail-biting levels without ever having to resort to obvious gimmicks like a near-miss on the road, a crash or Locke encountering a stranger in need of help.

Worth seeing?
Locke is a refreshingly original British thriller that exerts a powerfully emotional grip thanks to a superbly written script and a mesmerising central performance from Tom Hardy. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 15/10/2019 03:36

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