Steven Knight lets Tom Hardy loose on more emotions than Inside Out and a longer drive than Fury Road.
Kevin Smith once said he would cast Ben Affleck in anything, even as the shark in Jaws. I am starting to have the same feelings about Tom Hardy. Locke shouldn’t work as a film, it would hardly work as a Youtube video so why are we so drawn to this feature length chamber piece about one man rectifying his mistakes while his world falls down around him. Its all about Hardy, the depth of his characterisation, his mannerisms and the visual pain you see as he deals with this situation. Locke shouldn’t work but it does.
Following a single man driving from his workplace to London late one evening, we see no other character but Ivan Locke. We hear his conversations with those in his life around him as he looks to make right a wrong he has done in his past on a night where he should be staying home with his family to watch the football and having a good night's sleep for a multi million dollar construction job he should be overseeing the following day. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, and to be honest there isn't much of a plot here. Locke is more a character study that sees the emotional arch of the protagonist as he comes to terms with his actions and confronts those around him knowing that what he is doing isn’t easy, but its the right thing to do.
Tom Hardy is magnetic here, for the 85 minutes of the film, we are transfixed on his face, the editing of the outside roadways giving us little else than to emphasise the isolation and distance of his situation. Filmed multiple times in sequence, Hardy rides the wave of emotion throughout the film, hitting subtlety as certain voices set off emotional responses in him and he is forced to act accordingly to ensure the happiness and success of those around him. Initially Hardy’s accent is off putting, having previously applied so many different voices to fully inhabit the roles he plays, but after a few minutes, the dialogues take the front seat once more are he hurtles towards London alone. While others put in competent voice talent on the other end of the phone, this is a one man show and is hardy flexing his acting muscle.
The story presented in Locke is relatively mundane, it holds a positive message despite its negative outset, but is not something to be poured over and lacks depth. More important is the acting and the emotional journey that Locke takes us on and for that is and hour and a half of captivating and moving interactions that, had they been played by another actor, could put you to sleep with ease. While I wouldn’t cast Tom Hardy as Jaws just yet, I would give him a go as Godzilla is the role is up for grabs. Hollywood take note, put Tom Hardy in a car and magic happens.