Driving away one evening from a building site about to receive the world’s largest-ever concrete pour, construction manager Ivan Locke (Hardy) makes a diversion, deciding, instead of returning home to his family, to head down the motorway to his one-time one-night stand Bethan (Olivia Colman), now in hospital giving birth to his child. It’s a decision that turns his life upside down, as through a succession of mobile-phone calls, he struggles to take control of his rapidly unravelling life and assume responsibility for his job, family and the lonely woman carrying his baby.
With one Welshman alone in his car in real time, Knight’s Locke is a high-concept one-hander, safely reaching cruising speed thanks to a taut script and tight pacing from Oscar-nominated writer and director Knight and an unusually low-key and intimate performance from Hardy. It’s a treat for the senses with its neon reflections and Hardy’s mellifluous voice calming and coaxing all those on the other end of his mobile. But as Locke clings to his path of manly control, Knight’s thriller finds itself in a dimly lit dead end as its hero faces the consequences of his choices. No juggernaut perhaps, but definitely a classy star vehicle.
Locke | Directed by Steven Knight (UK 2013) with Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman. Starts June 19
Originally published in issue #128, June 2014