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Locke is the second directorial effort from writer Steven Knight and he takes a more daring turn away from crime dramas, in order to craft a minimalistic drama, in one location and a single character on screen.
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is successful Welsh construction manager who is about to run one of the largest civilian construction projects in Western Europe, in the city of Birmingham. But instead of heading home to watch football with his wife (Ruth Wilson) and sons (Tom Holland and Bill Milner) in Manchester, he heads to Croydon in London to be with Bethan (Olivia Colman), a lonely woman he had a one night stand with and giving birth to his baby. While he drives to down on the motorway, he tries to keep control of his personal and professional life as its starts to collapse thought his phone.
Locke is a character study and its centered around an excellent performance by Hardy, who had the unenviable task of carrying the movie alone. Hardy as Locke is clinical figure, who aims to keep control of events even when he is in no real position to do so, by trying to stick to his personal sense of duty and obligations. Locke aims to be cool, calm and collected, as he tries to keep his marriage, support a lonely, depressed woman during a complex birth and keep the construction job going despite leaving it at its most important time.
Hardy is a compelling screen presence and he gives a much more grounded, quieter performance, compared to some of his more grandiose roles in the past. He shows his talent and conviction, whether it was speaking with his colleagues or appealing to his wife and there are flashes anger and emotion when having an imagery conversations with his father as his shadow still lingers over Locke.
Hardy does provide an excellent Welsh accent and Locke features a fine voice cast of voice cast. Actors like Wilson, Colman, Holland and Milner have all appeared in major projects and all deliver emotional performances. Wilson and Colman have difficult roles as they deliver it through their voices, Wilson as the betrayed wife and Colman as a scared woman with depression as she goes through giving birth alone.
Locke is a bold experiment for Knight, as he steps out of his comfort zone, moving to a low-key, grounded drama and Hardy continues to enhance his reputation as an actor. Many people could easily relate to Locke, as many of us have tried to solve personal and professional problems over the phone. But due to limited scope, Locke could have been served better as a short film, short story or a theatrical or radio play.