May 16, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Long

Review: Hardy sells riveting one-man show 'Locke'

Tom Hardy stars as a man who must deal with three different crises while driving to a hospital in 'Locke.' (A24 Films)

“Locke” is an extraordinary film about an ordinary life.

It follows, in real time, one Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), as he drives to London one night. Once he gets in his car, he never gets out, so this is a one-man show taking place within an extremely confined space. Hardy — known for big physical roles in “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Warrior” — never even gets to stand up.

As Locke drives, surrounded by the blinking lights of passing traffic, he has to deal with three crises simultaneously, all via a hands-free phone.

First, he’s driving to meet a woman he barely knows (voice of Ruth Wilson) whom he had a one-night fling with nine months earlier. Now she’s in a hospital, about to give birth to his child, and somewhat hysterical.

Second, he has to break this news to his wife (Olivia Colman), and her reaction filters down to their kids (Tom Holland, Bill Milner), who can’t understand why he isn’t home watching soccer with them.

And thirdly, he has to make sure a huge construction project he’s just abandoned goes through as planned in the morning. And of course it seems to be unraveling.

Oh yes, he also has a bad cold.

Writer-director Steven Knight (he wrote “Eastern Promises”) keeps the pace lively by shifting Locke’s attention from one crisis to the next and then back again. He also uses the basic contradiction of the situation — Locke can’t go anywhere yet he’s always in motion — to fine effect.

But it’s up to Hardy to sell this film, and he certainly does, with steely calm in his voice, holding it together even as life comes apart. The low-key tension is mesmerizing; the reality palpable. “Locke” is one riveting film.

‘Locke’

GRADE: A
Rated R for language throughout
Running time: 85 minutes

tlong@detroitnews.com
twitter.com/toomuchTomLong

More Tom Long