Locke: Spoiler-free Review Sherlockabilia Shop Now Open

Locke: Spoiler-free Review * 14 April 2014


What should be a standard domestic drama worthy of soap opera instead is transformed into a gripping, pulse pounding quasi-anti-thriller in 'Locke', the new film by director Steven Knight starring Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott.

But first, a disclaimer - the film does indeed 'star' those actors, but the only one you actually see onscreen is Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke. He is alone for the duration of this literal 85 minute ride, making a night time journey down the M6 motorway towards London. The reasons for this sudden, desperate drive that impacts both his personal and professional life should not be spoilt in advance, but the resultant fallout unfolds in real time within the confines of Locke's BMW X5, with those he holds close and those who rely upon him frantically contacting him by phone throughout - which is where the other members of the cast come in.

The fact that nobody else appears onscreen is in no way an impediment, instead only adding to the almost claustrophobic experience the film takes us on. Hardy is universally excellent. He plays Locke with a Welsh accent, and has him suffering with a mild cold, elements that add nothing narratively but simply serve to somehow heighten the sense of realism as we come to understand the mission the man is on.  The film expertly replicates the solitary experience of driving at night down a rainy motorway, with the drama fully fuelled by the inexorable, unavoidable direction of travel along an anonymous red line on a sat nav system as private calamities of differing scale continually pile on top of Locke, trapped behind the wheel and bound by an inescapable guilt.

While this may all sound extremely heavy duty material, there are many moments of humour and levity, mostly thanks to Andrew Scott. In many ways he is here as the film's comic relief, his panicked turn generating some huge laughs for the audience. The expressive vocals we are familiar with from his incarnation of Jim Moriarty are here in full force, with the lack of a physical presence onscreen in no way diminishing his performance. Of all the cast, he is arguably the one who sparks most dramatically off of Tom Hardy's sterling work, mixing matey humour and workplace technicality all while shifting from put-upon to empowered as events unfold. We will have to studiously avoid talking in such depth about the likewise superb performances from Olivia Colman and Ruth Wilson however, for fear of spoiling anything...

In summation, Locke gives us a career high point for Tom Hardy, relentlessly tormented by his own sense of honour within a pressure cooker environment that just happens to be contained within the languid enclosing glow of a motorway drive at night. With superb support from a memorable supporting vocal cast of distinctive actors, it turns the conventional hell of an imploding life and domestic drama into something unique, new and quite brilliant. As a genuine experience, a film that should be seen in a cinema as dark and quiet as possible, it comes with our highest recommendation.

Locke is released in the UK on April 18 2014 and in the USA on April 25 2014.

Sherlockology was invited to see Locke in advance by Lionsgate UK, with our huge thanks.