One man, one car, one journey. It’s such a simple idea. Why didn’t I think of that?
Locke’s on-screen cast literally consists of one actor. Granted, it’s not just any actor, but still it’s quite an ask. Tom Hardy is one of acting’s brightest talents and in Locke proves he can tackle pretty much any genre. Accents, on the other hand…
Let’s just get the accent business out of the way. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been listening to Welsh accents for my whole life and so have a pretty solid understanding of how they should sound. Maybe it’s because I went in to the film sceptical about the accent in the first place. But the fact of the matter is, I found Hardy’s Welsh accent distracting, and ultimately the only part of the film I didn’t like. Other reviewers have been more favourable towards Ivan Locke’s dulcet tones, so perhaps I’m being overly-harsh. This is an accomplished and stylish film, but I spent a large part of its short running time silently sniggering at Hardy’s Welsh/Scottish (via Mumbai, apparently) accent.
Other than that however, Locke proves to be one of the most ingenious films of the year. Following Ivan Locke’s journey along the M6 to London, the 85-minute movie introduces us to the mess that is Locke’s life, and gives us a glimpse at a man on the brink. You wouldn’t think that a night-time drive in a BMW from Manchester to London is necessarily the environment most conducive to existential crises, but director Steven Knight crafts an intense drama set entirely behind the wheel.
Hardy is fantastic as the on-the-rocks anti-hero (we’ll just forget the accent for now), and conveys almost every emotion under the sun all from the driver’s seat. Filming took just one week, and the crew filmed Locke’s pilgrimage in real-time. I’ve seen this film billed as a thriller – maybe it is, but it’s a silent, slow-burner – the biggest twist in the tale involves a ring-binder and a couple of cans of cider. Hardy’s nuanced performance is gripping and utterly believable, with anguish told in every line on his face, every sweep of the brow.
Complemented by a star-studded voice-cast – Olivia Colman (Peep Show, Broadchurch), Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Ruth Wilson (Luther), Tom Holland (The Impossible), Alice Lowe (Sightseers) – Hardy’s performance is a must-see, and arguably the best of his career so far. Driving a lonely journey with no happiness at the beginning or end, Hardy’s hoarse whispers and stricken sighs carry a film that has little conventional action, and pulls the audience in with emotion.
There are frustrating parts of this film – the ending has mixed reviews, and for the last half hour I did find myself obsessed by the fact he hadn’t filled up with petrol for the entire journey – but in the end it’s such a smart idea that it doesn’t matter. If you like psychological, tense, gripping human-mind films, this is one for you. If nothing else, it’s a decent advert for BMWs.