Tom Hardy delivers an amazing, tour de force performance in writer/director Steven Knight’s engrossing one-man movie LOCKE.

Straightforward and plain speaking, that’s Ivan LOCKE. In a beautifully understated but nonetheless tour de force performance from Tom Hardy, we focus entirely on what happens to this one hard-working family man over the course of 90 minutes. Writer/director Steven Knight has crafted a drama that slowly begins to grip its viewer like a vice, as LOCKE gets in his car in Birmingham and begins the real-time journey to London and in the process, having to make and receive an ever-increasing number of life-changing phone calls.

Tom Hardy is Ivan Locke in Locke

Tom Hardy is Ivan Locke

You wouldn’t initially think that a man in a car on his mobile for an hour and a half would be so engrossing but I can tell you, it absolutely is. And after discovering the film on its cinema release earlier this year and tweeting:

‘A blisteringly brilliant performance by Tom Hardy makes Steven Knight’s Locke totally compelling viewing’

I’m not sure why I didn’t write a review there and then. But having watched LOCKE again on its recent release on DVD, Blu-ray, and On-Demand, I’m just compelled to write this post and recommend you should see the film right now!

In a chunky sweater and with a beard that almost means you don’t quite recognise him, we see LOCKE at the start of the movie with what we think is fairly ordinary life – married, father of two boys and manager of one of the biggest constructions projects seen for years but what we soon start to realise is that’s hiding some very deep, difficult thoughts about the choices he’s made in his life, his relationship with his father and whether a one-night stand with a co-worker could blow everything apart.

“I just have myself and the car that I’m in. And I’m just driving and that’s it.”

All these feelings flicker across Hardy’s wonderfully expressive face and as we listen to LOCKE’s soft, Welsh voice, we can see that underneath the quiet, amiable exterior, he’s struggling with the same suppressed violence he witnessed in his dad when he was a child.

I have to say that I’ve been dazzled by Hardy’s diverse and powerful portrayals over the past few years, particularly in supporting roles. He was terrific as Eames, the smart man to know how to get you out of a tight spot in Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Inception, which was followed by the emotionally vulnerable agent Ricki Tarr in the superb big-screen version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy after which he reunited with Nolan to go head-to-head against Christian Bale as the absolutely formidable and terrifying Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Although he owned the screen as the lead role of Bronson in Nicolas Winding-Refn’s crime drama back in 2008, it’s a real pleasure to see him in LOCKE as the leading man once again. And actually not just as the leading man, the sole performer.

Kudos to Knight too as he has assembled a superb supporting cast of British actors for the key people in Locke’s life, who we hear as the voices of the callers. There’s Ruth Wilson as Ivan’s wife Katrina and Andrew Scott as his hassled work colleague Donal, and then the brilliant Olivia Colman as his co-worker Bethan. But it’s Hardy who holds your attention from the first frame to the very last in a performance that’s one of the finest this year and makes this movie an absolute must see.