Do you fancy watching a film set entirely in a car as a man drives from Birmingham to London on the eve of Europe’s largest concrete pour? No? Well, that might have been my initial response too, but Tom Hardy (and the excellent cast of actors who appear voice-only in phone conversations) carry this rather unpromising premise off brilliantly.
Ivan Locke (a nod to the philosopher) is an experienced and very steady site engineer, responsible for the previously mentioned record-breaking concrete pour, turns right instead of left and turns his life upside down in order to try to do the right thing. He has fathered a child in a one-night stand, and now he decides the right and responsible thing to do is to be with her (she has no-one else) rather than doing his job, or being with his wife and sons.
In conversations with various protagonists as he is driving, we see his world falling apart, but Locke is a (mostly) calm and likeable person. We see that he is a loving husband and father, a meticulously careful, kind and steady boss and employee, and someone determined to make the right choices, even though they are personally difficult and painful.
It’s an emotionally gripping film, and one that works well with the tight constraints of the set up. It’s also - unexpectedly - aesthetically beautiful. The M6 has never looked so gorgeous.
Initially, I found the Welsh accent that Tom Hardy adopts odd, but I quickly forgot the oddness and realised that it helped convey the calm and competent demeanour of his character. Hardy does an incredible job in this film, and you can’t look away.