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. (x)