‘I am trying to do the right thing…’
I recently read two separate articles in the Guardian recommending Locke – the Tom Hardy vehicle written and directed by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight – so despite the fact that I’d never heard of it, it made its way on to my watchlist. On paper, it’s difficult to see why this film went so drastically under the radar when first released back in 2013. Hardy was coming off the back of his performance as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and the single-location premise is an intriguing one. Perhaps it was always destined to be an underdog, often those conditions make for the best movies anyway…
Ivan Locke (Hardy) is a man on the edge. When one phone call shatters his otherwise well ordered existence, Locke must abandon his wife and family to attend to the mystery caller, on the eve of the biggest night of his professional life as a construction site manager.
As with Buried, the Ryan Reynolds vehicle set almost entirely in a coffin, Ivan Locke never leaves his car. A bit like the most intense episode of Marion and Geoff that you could ever imagine. This asks a lot of an actor, but Hardy shows he is up to the challenge with an intense but calm performance that always feels like being directly in the eye of the storm. It helps that he has a stellar supporting cast to bounce off, in the form of voices on the other end of a phone line, with Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott providing aural support throughout.
The genius of Locke is the slow reveal, as layers are steadily stripped away until we are presented with the full picture facing Ivan Locke and what he intends to do about it. His occasional biting asides aimed at his dead father has echoes of Knight’s recent adaptation of A Christmas Carol, but Hardy makes it fit, even with his lilting Welsh accent.
Locke is lots of great things all at once. It’s wonderfully written, brilliantly performed and had me captivated from the first minute to the last. The kind of film that demands your attention. One of the best I’ve seen for a while.