Tom Hardy did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning LAFCA, for portraying Ivan Locke in Locke.
Tom Hardy plays the man, Ivan Locke, who we briefly see getting in to his car then for the rest of the film Hardy is only behind the wheel driving for the duration of the film. Hardy has two challenges presented to him from the start the first being that he will be the only person we see through the entirety of the film, this being a one man show, although not quite as there are other character who hear through phone calls, and the other challenge is that Hardy's performance must almost entirely be from the chest up since after he starts driving he never stops. Hardy as per usual gives himself a fairly off-beat accent to the character of Locke, and as usual for me I love Hardy's choice. Hardy is always particularly consistent in its uniqueness, but also it also uses to allude to Locke's personality. The accent Hardy uses though has something unusual about it that from the beginning helps to suggest the particular man who Locke is, and he as well as a most unusual sort in terms of his personal morality as well as his personal methods to work and life.
Locke takes on a series of phone call as he makes a trip to a London hospital to see the birth of his child. The problem though is that it's not his wife giving birth. Hardy importantly shows very different sides of Locke as he deals with each caller, and suggests his time before the ride with each of them. One of the most important calls he gets repeatedly is from the woman who goes through the process of giving birth over the night named Bethany (Olivia Colman). Hardy is very interesting in the way he portrays Locke's interactions with her. Even though she's giving birth to his child Hardy shows a considerable distance to the way that he speaks with her. It's an intriguing dynamic that Hardy creates though because in his words of support Hardy does show Locke attempting to give her some comfort like a good man would, but he never takes a step past that. When she wants him to say that he loves her, Hardy plays Locke's reaction as a gentle rebuffing. Hardy presents this lack of love as merely the truth, since their relationship was merely a one night stand.
At the same time though Locke receives calls regarding his work because he was about to start a particularly important job. One of the callers is a man who is still on the work site and the other is from his immediate superior. His boss is standard enough, although certainly well performed by Hardy, as Locke just bluntly tells his boss the truth of his situation and keeps his resolve, although not without frustration, as his boss chews him out as well later informs him that he is fired since he won't be at the work site in time. The worker on the site, named Donal (Andrew Scott), is a different story. There are a few times, particularly when Locke admonishes him for drinking alcohol, where Locke himself performs his role as boss. Hardy does well to carry that sort of command as he gives out his orders while with sometimes a veiled angered tone when Donal screws something up or fails to listen to him. Hardy though does not leave at that though as he again alludes to the particular nature of Locke as he speaks with Donal about getting the job done, which is making the concrete foundation for a skyscraper.
Hardy is outstanding as Locke instructs Donal on the building as suggests Locke's particular method at his job. Hardy earns the reputation Locke is said to have had in the past as he portrays Locke completely in his element as he speaks to Donal about the need for a certain form of concrete or quickly tells him about how to go about a last minute fix. Hardy suggests the devotion Locke has for his construction work. An element that certainly could have easily fell flat is the way that Locke speaks about work which is treating something like concrete as though it is some sacred art. It works though because of Hardy's delivery of these scenes. Hardy brings such a powerful pride as he speaks about the eventual building and in the moment is looking as though he is seeing it already. There is such a devotion and passion that Hardy honestly expresses that he earns the almost spiritual quality which are in his words as he speaks of technically what is his just his job. This also plays into something in the final relationship of Locke's that's perhaps the most influential.
Locke of course also has to deal with his family. He speaks with one of his sons, who is more preoccupied with a sporting event, and Hardy is excellent in portraying Locke trying to say something meaningful to his son while the son is clearly thinking it is nothing more than a standard call from his father. He also speaks to his wife (Ruth Wilson) who he has to admit his adultery to. Hardy is excellent in these scenes as in his usual Locke style he does try to put it as straight forward as possible. Hardy does not portray this as though Locke is unemotional, but rather shows the explanation as fitting to his personal moral code which is to admit to what he has done. Locke does explain the technical meaninglessness of his act of adultery, as he did not love the woman, but Hardy is very moving by still quietly showing the guilt in Locke as he hears his wife's reaction to this portrayal. Hardy gives a incredibly poignant depiction by portraying this scene as Locke resigning himself to this fate, because he knows that it is the only thing he can do.
There is one other person Locke talks to, but it's not through phone or even to a living being, but rather to his dead father who he basically envisions in his back seat. In these "conversations" we learn the motivation to be there for his child's birth because his father was never there for him. Hardy is outstanding in these scenes because he presents a different side of Locke, a Locke who's not reacting in a way that goes with his personal code. Hardy effectively shows Locke in his most emotional state as he expresses the hatred in Locke for his father's actions, that is actually a motivator for Locke since he's purposefully avoided being like his deadbeat father. This extends to simply acting as a father, but Hardy also conveys the idea that his absolute distaste with his father's lifestyle has man him the man he is. Hardy is fascinating as he explains almost how a passionate hatred for a ghost has propelled him to be the exact man he is in both his personal life and his job. A great deal of that pride in his work comes from knowing he's not like his father. This is exceptional work by Tom Hardy and does not falter in his task to carry the film on his shoulders. He earns the sole investment into Locke keeping the film consistently intriguing throughout, and manages to allow us to know almost this whole man's life in just one car ride.