FLIX: Tom Hardy captivates audience in 'Locke'
• CAST: (2014) Tom Hardy, Tom Holland, Bill Milner, Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson, Ben Daniels, Olivia Colman
• DIRECTED BY: Steven Knight
• Now showing at the Landmark River Oaks Theater in Houston.
Can one man on screen for 90 minutes captivate an audience and pull off a suspenseful film?
Overwhelmingly, yes, but there are only a handful of actors that can pull off an achievement like this: Tom Hanks in "Cast Away," Sam Rockwell in "Moon," Ryan Reynolds in "Buried" and most recently, Robert Redford in "All Is Lost," just to name a few.
Joining that list is Tom Hardy in the new film "Locke" from Steven Knight, who wrote "Dirty Pretty Things" and "Eastern Promises."
Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a foreman overseeing the construction of a 55-story building in Birmingham, England, where the largest concrete pour in Europe for a foundation is scheduled to take place the next morning.
The film opens at nightfall as Locke gets in his BMW at the end of a long day, but instead of heading home, he gets on the English motorway to start a 90-minute drive to London.
With his cellphone synched to his car via Bluetooth, he starts receiving one call after another: first an emotional woman named Bethan (Olivia Colman); then, his upset wife, Katrina (Ruth Wilson); his kids, Eddie (Tom Holland) and Sean (Bill Milner); co-worker Donal (Andrew Scott); and his boss, Gareth (Ben Daniels).
Apart from a few shots of the exterior traffic with its luminous headlights and scores of gleaming taillights, director Knight keeps the camera focused on the car's interior and Hardy's face.
Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos uses the streetlights, the traffic and the BMW's dash to illuminate the film, and it's very effective.
Ultimately, you feel like a passenger in the car observing this man's life falling apart.
Tom Hardy is a tour-de-force as we watch him handle each crisis with a sense of calmness - his Welsh accent assuring each caller that everything is going to be all right.
This is acting in its purest form with Hardy relying on his facial expressions and his voice to drive the scene.
The score by Dickon Hinchliffe ("Out Of The Furnace," "Winter's Bone") sets the mood and helps generate the film's suspense.
I didn't want to give too much away, so I left out the details of Locke's conversations.
The film also takes place in real time, which gives the story its authentic edge.
You may not know Locke in the beginning, but by the end of the film, you'll have a pretty good idea about his character.
Rating: Four stars.
Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Houston Film Critics Society and juror at the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival. He reviews films every Friday on Hit Radio 104.7 KVIC. Contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.