This movie is 85 minutes of Tom Hardy in a car, talking on his ph— I mean, talking through his bluetooth. So, the unofficial titles of Locke become: How Good Is Tom Hardy? and How Good Is Director Steven Knight? I can hear your answering question: “Who’s Tom Hardy?” He’s the very dumb Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and the very excellent and smooth forger and impersonator in Inception.
There isn’t a whole lot to focus on visually here, so every detail is important: Hardy’s sweater is awesome. His Irish accent is impeccable. His beard is great, and he strokes it with intense consternation about two hundred times.
Locke’s plot is carried forward exclusively by phone calls Hardy has through his bluetooth (by the way, BMW’s 2014 SUV has excellent, easy-to-use bluetooth functionality. I learned that recently. Somehow.) They take breaks from the excellent dialogues and monologues by giving montage visuals of the night highway in England that Hardy’s driving on. Understandably, they let the film go about a half hour before spilling the beans on all the pressing questions: Why’s he driving? Where’s he going? Why isn’t he home with his increasingly anxious family? Why’s he calling in sick on the eve of the biggest gig of his career? I still haven’t decided if I should give out those answers in this review, so I’m going to avoid the issue while I think about it.
Back to those first questions and the unofficial titles of Locke: How good is Tom Hardy? How good is Director Steven Knight?
Very fucking good, on both counts.
The longer you watch, the more you forget the low budget limitations of one-character-one- scene, the more you psychically put yourself in the car with Hardy, hanging on every word uttered. A delicious tension is maintained by a combination of the highway traffic at night, the mounting tension of the plot, and the longer and longer periods Hardy spends in stress and not with eyes on the road. The very solid story coupled with the single character focus has you vividly imagining all the other people involved in the character’s life, so that they become more real and relatable to the viewer than if they were actually visible. An occasional shout of “FUCK!” brings out the Bane we all know and love (he even mentions breaking someone’s back at one point. Awesome). Even the monologues, where Hardy talks with his unseen, deceased father, grow from sort-of-cheesy-but-necessary to eventually becoming the high points of the movie, driving home its potent message.
Whew! I fulfilled my word count obligation without giving away the plot. Go see Locke so we can talk freely about it.