Tom Hardy is one of the best actors currently working in Hollywood, and unlike a lot of talents that are thrust into the limelight (such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender et al), he’s making a conscientious effort to not become over-exposed. The truth is, Hardy is an actor who does exactly what he wants to do, and doesn’t just accept any role that is thrown his way. This means that you can catch him in a limited, but varied number of films.
After his superb performance in The Dark Knight Rises as iconic Batman villain Bane, you may be forgiven for wondering what happened to him. Instead of peppering his face over everything under the sun he instead focused on his own film-making efforts, heading to war-zones to make documentaries and working with independent filmmakers, as well as preparing for the continuation of the Mad Max franchise, where he will play the eponymous role instead of Mel Gibson.
Now, we’re coming close to seeing the fruits of his labour with the release of Locke, a contained thriller written and directed by British filmmaker Steven Knight. Knight first cut his teeth in television as a writer and found great success, creating The Detectives and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, before turning his talents to film and earning an Oscar nomination for his Eastern Promises script.
Never content to sit still, Knight moved into the director’s chair recently with his directorial debut, Hummingbird (Redemption, for American audiences), a Jason Statham vehicle. Hummingbird attempted to do something a little different compared to the usual Statham fare, and the grizzled veteran action star got to play a man who was still haunted by his past in Afghanistan, whilst also allowing Knight to talk about the often undesirable topic of PTSD, and the neglect that soldiers who return from conflict face from our society.
Locke however seems to be a very different beast, planting Hardy in a car during the 90 minute drive between Wales and London all shot in real time. Contained thrillers are easy films to make, they’re often rather cheap, and efficient, but they’re almost impossible to make consistently engaging and enthralling due to the narrative limitations imposed upon them.
One of the best contained thrillers in recent memory was Buried, the Ryan Reynolds vehicle that saw him as a truck driver trapped in a box in the ground with a phone in Iraq. It was an intense and cleverly shot film, that while engaging on first viewing, is not exactly the type of film that will have audiences crave to see it multiple times.
Locke will make use of Tom Hardy’s ample talents as it tells the story of Ivan Locke, a successful construction manager who is put into a difficult position and has to make one of the most important drives of his life, during which his entire life falls apart through a series of phone calls featuring his wife, his co-workers, friends etc. While Hardy will be the only presence on screen it will also feature the voices of the excellent Ruth Wilson (Spooks, Luther), Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur, Broadchurch) and Andrew Scott, whom most viewers will remember for his chillingly unique portrayal of Moriarty in the BBC’s much hailed Sherlock series. Check out the trailer below.
Films like Locke are extremely difficult to market effectively, and while Hardy’s strong Welsh accent is peppered throughout, it’s the reviews that speak loudest to the merits of the film. If you were unaware what the film was about, the trailer probably wouldn’t offer much clarity on that, but it would tell you that it was a bloody work of genius, at least according to some people who have seen it.
Filmed in just eight days, and completed in nine months from conception, it stands to be a tight and memorable thriller that could kick-start the contained thriller genre again. Now, it will be interesting to see whether the name of Tom Hardy will put bums in seats, or if the film’s more limited concept will put general audiences off.