I jump-started my Sundance 2014 with eighty-five minutes in a car with Tom Hardy. A one-man tour de force, Locke is a devastating character-study that raises questions about morality and what it means to do the right thing. Tom Hardy delivers a powerful performance, displaying depth, complexity, and vulnerability. Taking place entirely during a night drive to London, as an audience member, it’s a long time to be in a car, but it’s worth the investment.

The Players:

  • Director: Steven Knight
  • Screenwriter(s): Steven Knight
  • Cinematographer(s): Haris Zambarloukos
  • Starring: Tom Hardy, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Tom Holland, Bill Milner


Ivan Locke is an earnest man, resolved to be as sound and steady as the concrete he pours for a living. He is unfailingly reliable and trusted by his family and coworkers.  But when a mistake from his past puts his resolve to be good and responsible to the test, he’s faced with a devastating choice: give in to becoming everything he hates, or destroy the life he’s worked so hard to create.

The Good:

  • Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke: This artfully written character manages to be earnest and likeable, yet he is also dangerously close to erupting into a violent rage. I was thoroughly impressed with Tom Hardy’s performance and the crispness of the writing. The plot is suspenseful and the emotions are sincere. Ivan Locke is definitely one of the most compelling characters I’ve met this year at Sundance, and Tom Hardy really brings him to life.
  • Haris Zambarloukos’ Cinematography: Even though the subject matter would seem pretty limited, taking place almost entirely in and around his car during a drive, the cinematography was impressively inventive.

The Bad:

  • Viewer Fatigue:  I’m glad this film was under an hour and a half.  I got a bit fatigued about halfway through, since the film is limited to shots of him, his car, the road, and the other vehicles on the road. It felt like being on a road trip, and at the end of an hour I was dying for a rest stop. So as much as I respect and admire this film and everything that it accomplishes by making this decision, it definitely tested my perseverance.


Ivan Locke seamlessly blends the comedy and tragedy that results from the human desire to control life and uphold one’s convictions in the face of our inevitable fallibility. Despite the viewer fatigue that came from watching a man drive a car for 85 minutes straight, I enjoyed this film.

Rating: 7/10