Tom Hardy is such a gifted actor he can carry a film entirely on his own, literally. In the new movie, "Locke," he has the only onscreen role shot exclusively in the confines of an automobile. And he pulls it off flawlessly.
In the film's opening scene, Ivan Locke (Hardy) is at a construction site getting into his BMW SUV. He's on his way to London from Birmingham, a two-hour journey which will be riddled with non-stop phone calls. And when Locke's not on his Bluetooth, he's carrying on a one-way conversation with a ghost in the back seat.
Locke's persona is all about dedication ... to his job, his wife, his kids and a woman who's about to give birth to his child after a one night stand. It may seem ambiguous but Locke is so driven to do the right thing that we forgive his one indiscretion. He doesn't want to commit the sins of his father to whom he's speaking via his rear view mirror. And for that, we can't help feeling his pain and admire his motivations.
Hardy possesses the innate ability to make his character so brilliantly intricate, it's mesmerizing to behold. Despite the physical limitations, his performance is riveting. We see him only from the waist up, nervously rolling up the sleeves of his shirt as he's about to lose everything dear to him. His face speaks volumes as the camera is ever focused upon it.
Director-writer Steven Knight ("Eastern Promises" "Dirty Pretty Things") has skillfully turned what could have been a claustrophobic nightmare into a masterpiece. His beautiful use of light during a night shoot is electrifying. The illumination within the vehicle emanating from the navigation system almost becomes a secondary character in the film. Headlights and taillights brazenly emphasize Hardy's raging emotions, accentuating his performance.
Tom Hardy's work in the past has always been compelling ("Lawless" "Warrior" "Inception"). But in "Locke" he completed his role in a mere eight days while nursing a cold. Perhaps, such adversities contributed to his ability to come across as so dire but never the less, he has firmly established himself as one of the best actors in the business.
When interviewed about "Locke," Hardy commented, "Responsibility has a cost and there's no such thing as perfection." But when an actor can spellbind an audience for 85 minutes by simply talking, that, it seems, amounts to perfection.
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