Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Tom Hardy's Driving Test

Published Thursday, 24 April 2014
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What is it about men and motors that make great movies?

Having said that, a bloke sitting in his car making phone calls for an entire film does not sound like the most thrilling premise, so should we be really revving our engines for new Brit flick, Locke?

Written and directed by Steven Knight and driven by a powerhouse performance by Tom Hardy, Locke is an unusual cinematic experience that literally puts the audience in the passenger's seat to watch the driver's perfect life fall to pieces.

Hours before the biggest day of his career, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) receives a phone call that sets in motion a series of events that unravels his family, job and soul. As manager of the biggest building site in Europe, he is used to dealing with mega chasms in his professional life but this time he faces a giant void in his personal life. The foundation of his family life, the loving bond with his wife and two sons is about to be rocked to its core by a earth shattering secret.

Never before has a British motorway been so compelling as Locke frantically battles a series of callers on his Bluetooth while behind the wheel of his BMW. "I want to talk to you about a practical next step" he tells his wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson), but she is having none of it, devastated by her husband's indiscretion. "I won't have to deal with your footprints turning to stone on the kitchen floor anymore" she poignantly tells him.

Great movies can make the everyday extraordinary. But surely listening to two builders talk on the phone about the pouring of concrete into the vast foundations of a skyscraper should be the dullest conversation ever? Not so this is genuinely exciting stuff. "Don't trust God when it comes to concrete" Locke tells his anxious Irish deputy Ronan (Andrew Scott). Phone call after phone call intensifies the drama, including one to an irate council worker in an Indian restaurant to obtain permission to close a road. This should be cinema sludge but it's not.

As the sole actor onscreen, bearded Tom Hardy has never been better, conjuring the spirit of the great Richard Burton with his soft Welsh brogue. In recent movies, I had been dismayed that Hardy was mumbling his dialogue almost to the point of inaudibility. However Locke is an astonishing performance of charismatic clarity.

Hardy's Ivan is not so terrible as he twists and turns through this claustrophobic crisis. This is an ordinary man struggling to keep his precious world from crumbling. All he needs to do is phone a friend. Which is not surprising as writer/ director Steven Knight is the creator of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Knight cements his growing reputation with another superb script, which is a bold and daring watch.

My advice - belt up and take a joy ride with this superior road movie.

Locke (Cert 15) is now on general release.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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