For years now, I’ve heard about the brilliance of Tom Hardy. I’ve never quite seen said brilliance, though there are flashes in Lawless and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s in Locke that Hardy’s brilliance shines—through a rainy windshield, through nearly imperceptible voice breaks.

It’s a pity, too, that Locke—a character study of a man trying to control his life when life has other plans—is such a quiet movie; it’s not the kind of picture that garners much notice beyond critical praise.

Hardy is Ivan Locke, a construction manager in charge of what will be Europe’s biggest ever concrete pour, who decides he must deal with a personal mistake. That mistake—a one-night stand—will have dire consequences for his job and his family, and on the course of a drive to London, Locke tries to set his affairs in order via car phone.

Hardy is almost the whole show here—the other actors are excellent, too, but they exist off screen in phone calls—and his performance is the epitome of understated screen acting. Watch the way his face changes; listen for the breaks in his voice as reality slowly sinks in. Watch the way Locke constantly rolls his sleeves, as if he’s unconsciously convinced he can control one thing. Hardy is nothing short of magnificent in Locke. 

Directed by Steven Knight
With Tom Hardy, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott
The Screen
85 min.