Steven Knight's new film is all about the choices you make in life. Arguably, the defining moment of the film takes place two minutes in when Hardy's character, Ivan Locke, flicks his indicator and instead of going left he diverts and heads right. Locke soon finds himself on the M6, leaving Birmingham behind him and making his way to London.
The film centres around construction manager Ivan Locke, who risks everything to make a nocturnal journey down the M6 in order to fix a mistake that has come back to haunt him. Hardy's performance is captivating in every sense of the word. For an actor who has made a name for himself in extravagant roles, he manages to portray a reliable and determined everyman whose world is painstakingly falling apart incredibly well. Hardy's decision to adopt a Welsh accent may not pay off as handsomely as it could have but his soft dulcet tones are calming, just not when he is threatening to cut off someone's legs with a saw. The decision to take on the Richard Burton-esque accent is an attempt to add to the hard working character of Locke but at times it does take you out of the film, which is disappointing as the film rarely puts a foot wrong in its short running time.
Much of the hype surrounding Locke has been about Knight's brave decision to make a film that features a single actor and shoot it all in a car. And the conceit really pays off for the director, limitations have created inspiration. The director, along with his Director of Photography, Haris Zambarloukos, manages to create hypnotic like visuals using the reflections in the window and the beams of light from passing cars. We see Locke leave his construction site and get into his BMW but that is the only time we see the titular character in the outside world. Knight manages to transform the 4x4 into a microcosm, every once in a while the director's camera is monumentally distracted by other cars but apart from that Hardy's Locke takes up every inch of the screen.
Hardy may be the only actor we see, but other actors lend their voice talking to Locke through his in-car phone. Ruth Wilson plays Locke's wife, Olivia Colman is his affair who is soon to give birth to their mistake and Andrew Scott's Donal, Locke's work colleague, offers a lot of the film's humour. But it is the conversations shared between Locke and his two sons, played by Tom Holland and Bill Milner, that is the emotional heart of the film. By the end of the film his son, Eddie, echoes his own father' attempts to patch things up. The film has a touch of the Shakespearian about it with Locke's conversation with his long dead father. While this at first seems like a questionable move, it breaks up the string of phone calls that bombard Locke's phone. As well, it exposes what drives Locke and why he has made the decision to be present at his child's birth. It is his father that drives him to make the tough decision.
Knight has created a film that is miles away from his debut feature. They both share similar motifs, mainly Knight's concentration of the masculine but his decision to strip back the film to its bare bones is a stroke of genius. The film doesn't really bother itself with the baggage that typically comes with films, things are touched upon but never too much. This approach allows the director to examine and deconstruct the character of Locke and in doing so Knight manages to pull of an exceptional piece of storytelling.