Starring: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, and Ruth Wilson
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
I’d like to see what I’m going to call, ‘The Locke Test’ initiated in cinema. Have every single actor and actress be in this film, and see whether they’re up to the task. Locke is a film that takes place almost entirely within the confines of a car. It never flashes back, it never cuts away. It is just one man and the various phone calls he has whilst driving from one destination to the other. Over the course of the film’s running time, and his journey, the life he knew slowly devolves and crumbles before his ears, as phone call after phone call unravels his secrets, faults, and ambitions. The one location, one actor, dialogue driven film is nothing new and is one of my favourite sub-genres. However Locke is one of its crowning achievements and what I found to be one of the more exciting and inspirational films of 2014.
As alluded to earlier, the motor at the heart of this film is Tom Hardy. Whilst making a name for himself playing muscular beasts of men in films such as Bronson, Warrior, and The Dark Knight Rises, in this Tom Hardy demonstrates his range, playing a man who is much more righteous and timid than his previous characters. Sporting a Welsh accent that at first distracts yet you eventually forget about, Tom Hardy is a world away from the backbreaking villainy of Batman. The film rests on his performance and he is able to keep you invested in this story from beginning to end.
However it is important to remember that despite him being the only one on screen, his performance is not the only one of the film. With various actors on the other end of the phone, like an animated film, Locke boasts a variety of voice performances, all of which help you become accustomed to but also forget about the film’s confined set-up. The always-brilliant Olivia Colman particularly stands out as the woman who in many ways instigates everything happening on the film’s evening. Steven Knight ingeniously and inspiringly made the film in such a way which meant that Tom Hardy was reacting to all these phone calls live, giving the film a degree of realism and intensity it may had lacked if the other voices had been added in before or after the fact.
Steven Knight deserves credit through demonstrating with both his writing and directing that in film you have the power to make anything thrilling. Locke is a film that finds genuine tension from conversations about cement pouring. Yes, conversations about cement pouring had me tenser than many scenes from this summer’s blockbusters.
Overall Locke is a simple yet incredibly effective film, which in its own confined way demonstrates the power of cinema. A short and satisfying journey which provides further evidence that Tom Hardy is one of the finest actors working today.