Geoff Cox’s DVDs: Locke, Transcendence, Mindscape, The Quiet Ones

Tom Hardy in Locke

Tom Hardy in Locke

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Tom Hardy’s film portrayal of notorious Luton-born prisoner Charles Bronson was critically acclaimed and many described it as the performance of a lifetime.

But it’s bettered by his extraordinary turn in LOCKE (15: Lionsgate), a milestone movie shot almost completely inside a car on the motorway – with Luton again given a namecheck!

This slice of real-time drama is an unexpectedly thrilling treat, with Hardy playing against type as Ivan Locke, a construction foreman caught in emotional turmoil.

Locke has a heavy Welsh accent, wears a jumper and cares deeply about his wife, children and job.

Driving from work one evening, before he is scheduled to manage the biggest concrete pour in European history, he fields a string of angst-filled phone calls.

Each interaction ratchets up the pressure as Locke is determined to do the right thing in response to a life-changing problem.

Despite the mounting pressure, he’s a beacon of heroic normality who always keeps to the speed limit.

> Techno fable TRANSCENDENCE (12: Entertainment In Video) is a muddled affair, although Johnny Depp still manages to bring charisma to his role.

He plays scientist Will Caster who, left fighting for his life after a violent attack, has his brain connected to a giant super computer that can think and even feel.

As Will’s links to the worldwide web allow him to venture beyond his mortal self, gathering more and more information and controlling global events, his friends and family – including Rebecca Hall as his wife – start to question the wisdom of the project.

The film sets up an intriguing premise , but before long the thrilling sci-fi elements of the plot make way for complicated philosophical navel-gazing about man playing God.

With Depp featuring as a disembodied voice for much of the film, Paul Bettany proves to be its pivotal moral centre as Will’s conflicted colleague.

> Psychological thriller MINDSCAPE (15: Studio Canal) encroaches on Inception territory as it explores the darker recesses of the mind.

Mark Strong is cast as a psychic with the ability to enter people’s memories who is called to help a teenager after she goes on hunger strike.

Sinister secrets from her past come to light during their sessions together.

It’s a tantalising concept, yet there are too many lulls between dramatic scenes. While the dream sequences are skilfully created, any attempt to build atmosphere is let down by the cliche-ridden dialogue and wooden performances.

Strong is particularly guilty as he fails to bring his usual intensity to the role of a troubled hero fighting his own demons.

> If you like your scary stories jumpy and bumpy rather than bloody and gory, then haunting Hammer horror THE QUIET ONES (15: Lionsgate) will be right up your dark alley.

In 1974, a young cameraman joins an Oxford professor (Jared Harris) and his students at a rural mansion to record an experiment to discover what unspeakable force resides within a suicidal teen.

Is it a poltergeist, demonic possession or something else that ails the girl? Some heart-stopping moments compensate for an overfamiliar plot.

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