Locke is about as pure a character performance as you can get – a one man act, in an enclosed space, for 90 minutes.
The greatest extent to which Locke (Hardy) interacts with other characters is via the phone, where other players are heard, but not seen. Locke as a film is a love it or hate it affair, many might not see the point, but others will be riveted by Tom Hardy’s subtle performance.
Locke is a successful construction manager, who has it all. His loving family is waiting for him at home, but he tells them he can’t be there tonight. There is something more important that means he must drive to London. The film is entirely set in Locke’s BMW on the motorway as he completes this drive in real time. The reason for his haste soon becomes clear – Locke had a one night stand affair with a woman he hardly knew, and his daughter is about to be born. Locke has issues over his own father abandoning him, and refuses to do the same, even when his own family at home grows ever more anxious, and his job is placed in peril because of him abandoning a crucial project.
Locke is ultimately the story of someone quite ordinary driven by a deep and intense desire to do the right thing. Where this desire takes him, even in 90 minutes, is interesting, and Hardy plays the role (in my mind) perfectly. Usually relegated to more over the top performances, Hardy here gets a chance to show off his delicate, subtle acting training.
Locke is a concept as much as anything, and if you admire this form of pure acting, you might very well enjoy this piece. Just don’t go looking for anything more from it.