What Makes ‘Locke’ the Perfect Vehicle for ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Star Tom Hardy?

With “The Dark Knight Rises,” audiences never got a good look at Tom Hardy’s face. In “Locke,” that’s practically all they see.

A tight, tense one-man show that unfolds virtually in real time from the claustrophobic confines of a speeding BMW, “Locke” shows a very different side of the intense British actor, who plays a mellow skyscraper construction manager dodging an important work obligation in order to deal with a tricky personal issue. Calmly placing calls instead of chewing the scenery, Hardy plays it sharp and sensitive, with a beard in place of a face mask. Oh yeah, and you can understand every word he says.

If ‘Locke’s’ experimental concept intrigues, be sure to track down Dutch helmer Noud Heerkens’ 2009 “Last Conversation” as well — another single-actor tour-de-force set entirely within a moving vehicle.

“After the brutality of making a film in a conventional way, my first thought was that this project could be an installation,” says director Steven Knight, referring to his state of mind after directing Jason Statham starrer “Redemption.” This time out, “I wanted to capture a theatrical experience in a moving vehicle,” he explains.

“There’s something about the way people behave when they’re alone in a car. You pull up at traffic lights, and see them doing really odd things: They’re singing, they’re (drumming), because they know that anyone who sees them is going to pull away.”

Opening date: April 25 (distributor, A24)

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