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Genre Drama

When we reach a fork in the road of life, the path we choose often leads to a known set of consequences. Once we've knowingly taken the wrong path, getting back on the right path can be tough going as Ivan Locke discovers in the tense drama, Locke.

The devoted family man and successful construction manager decides to go against the grain on the eve of a critical building development. By trying to be everything his father wasn't, he fights his way into the night on a long freeway journey to fix a mistake. As his looming job, worried family and bold choice catch up with him, he's forced to risk everything he's worked so hard to establish.

Locke writer-director, Steven Knight, has written some strong screenplays in his time including: Amazing Grace, Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things. He even tried to reinvent our generation's quintessential action hero, Jason Statham, in Redemption. His second directorial effort sees him scaling back to deliver a punchier, nuanced character portrait drama that takes place in the confines of a motor vehicle.

The onus is on Tom Hardy, who carries the film with a strong performance - featuring in almost every shot. Hardy is calculated about this claustrophobic role, conveying a well-to-do gentleman nursing some deep-seated resentment with a sense of moral fortitude. Hardy is on point as a seemingly rational strategist, taking a self-destructive risk and knowing that come what may, he will be able to glue his life back together again.

As he races through the night, he receives calls on his hands-free car phone from his stressed out second-in-command, his wife, his kids and the person behind his troubles. The modern family man seems to have everything together, but as we journey with him we start to realise his darker side. He remains noble, yet his sacrifice is complicated and we sift through the moral dilemma as he tries to smooth things over from one phone call to the next.

Locke functions much like Phonebooth, Buried and Brake. The film hinges on one performance, comes from a fixed position and relies on tense mostly over-the-phone drama to generate spark. While Phonebooth actually had a cast, Locke is essentially a one man show. Instead of operating from a coffin in Buried or a boot in Brake, the car and freeway in Locke offers more in terms of street lighting and car interiors.

While the low budget scenario may feel too constrained for viewers used to Tom Hardy in action movies, the claustrophobic tension created by Locke's circumstances make for compelling entertainment. We're entranced by Hardy's disturbingly calm performance as he pushes the complications around like a mosaic. Then, Knight's smart screenplay provides a very real situation, escalated by the timing of his decision and weighted by tight direction and a solid voice cast.

Locke is not what you would expect from Tom Hardy, but just like Buried did for Ryan Reynolds, it serves as a wonderful showcase of his tremendous dramatic ability. As a drama-turned-thriller, we're completely immersed in Ivan Locke's private world like a fly on the rear-view mirror.

Steven Knight takes the minimalist route to the point that Locke could have been just as edgy as a radio drama. While a bold move, adding such tight limits makes it easier for him to get everything just right. Locke does come up a bit short at just over 80 minutes, but when you feel like you've been locked in the car with Hardy all that time, it's a good time to get some fresh air.

The bottom line: Gripping

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