Evening Standard: You have to cast a good actor in this sort of tour de force, and London-born Tom Hardy, taken up by Hollywood after playing in Inception and then the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, but still determined to do quality work in a small film like this, is just the man. With no sense of strain whatsoever, he holds the screen throughout as Ivan Locke. Hardy controls his performance expertly, so the film’s 85 minutes never seems too long, and Knight’s writing has a quality that avoids what would otherwise be highly melodramatic.
The Times: A brilliantly constructed drama. Writer and director Steven Knight’s pacing is nail-chewing perfection and Tom Hardy’s performance is remarkable. Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke with so much anguished drama that you can’t look away for a second.
Hollywood Reporter: Summoning the spirit of Richard Burton, Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a soft-spoken Welshman with an unimpeachable record as a go-to guy in construction management. He’s similarly untarnished as a husband of 15 years and father to two soccer-fanatic sons. What makes Hardy’s performance so effective is that he doesn’t play Locke as a quick-fix dynamo, nor as some paragon of male nobility, rushing gallantly to the side of a helpless woman. He’s simply an ordinary, even-tempered and decent man in a tough situation, whose moral compass dictates a dutiful sense of follow-through in both private and professional matters. Watching the performance in such unblinking focus is a reminder of how infrequently those qualities define a contemporary screen character. Hardy seldom raises his voice, and even as cracks form in his composure and the ramifications become clear, flare-ups are kept to a minimum. His line readings are consistently interesting, conveying a lot with little outward display of emotion. But the shattering toll of Locke’s actions is written all over his face as he accepts his fate. It’s an extraordinary piece of acting.
The Playlist: Tom Hardy ia one of the most compelling screen presences around at the moment and there isn’t so much as a sliver of doubt that the film belongs entirely to Hardy. He initially seems a little young for the role but under a hearty beard and a deep-voiced Welsh accent (that seems to be a nod to Richard Burton), he proves himself to be a worthwhile choice, giving the performance of his career to date. It’s a very complete portrait of a man — one who can be commanding, weak, funny, loving, cold, single-minded, selfless and selfish — and by the end of the drive you feel like you’ve known Ivan for years. You might not necessarily like him but few could fail to feel for him. It’s an impressive achievement in a very impressive film, one that can only increase the esteem in which both Knight and Hardy are held.
The Telegraph: Hardy’s performance is the best yet from an actor we have seen at this year’s Festival. He adopts, pointlessly but brilliantly, a rich Welsh accent that is equal parts Richard Burton, Hannibal Lecter and Oliver Postgate’s Ivor the Engine narration. If you are asking an audience to listen to one man talking for an hour and a half, you had better make sure he is worth listening to, and minute-by-minute, Hardy has you spellbound.
TimeOut London:It’s a brilliant performance from Hardy, who essays an impeccable Welsh accent and feigns calm and control while making clear that Locke is dying inside. This is a masterclass in how the most local, most hemmed-in stories can reverberate with the power of big, universal themes.
Variety: Writer-director Steven Knight’s sophomore feature, “Locke,” is basically just Tom Hardy driving a car while making a bunch of phone calls, and yet this ingeniously executed study in cinematic minimalism has depth, beauty and poise. A finely tuned showcase for Hardy’s exceptional acting skills, Bluetooth-enabled dashboard displays and the dynamic range of the Red Epic camera, the pic tracks a dark night of the soul for a construction-site manager en route from Birmingham to London.
RogerEbert.com: Tom Hardy’s performance as Ivan is, of course, not only the film’s best asset but the only one available. This is Hardy at his most ‘normal’, and as a guy who specializes in over-the-top creations he was perhaps not the most intuitive choice for the role; he is great nonetheless, softened by a scruffy beard and ordinary shirt and jumper. What is certainly not ordinary is his remarkable lucidity when everything starts to crumble.
Screendaily: Locke has only one on-screen character, a building site foreman played magnificently by Tom Hardy, who spends the entire 80-odd minutes of the film driving his car and talking on the phone. Hardy’s performance as the calm, dependable Ivan Locke, whose life falls apart as he deals with the consequences of a one-night stand, could even be in with an outside chance of an Oscar-nod depending on what else comes along, but it’s not the only thing that will open theatrical doors (beyond its guaranteed Lionsgate UK release) to what, on paper, sounds like a filmed radio play.