Directed by Steven Knight
Starring Tom Hardy, Olivia Coleman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Tom Holland, Bill Milner, Danny Webb
Ivan Locke, a dedicated family man and successful construction manager, receives a phone call on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career that sets in motion a series of events that threaten his careful cultivated existence.
Shot over a couple of weeks, Locke takes place solely in the car of Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) as he makes the choice to drive to a hospital rather than go home to his family as a one night stand has resulted in him becoming a father. Sacrificing his stable and loving life as well as his career, Locke battles with his inner demons in this well-acted drama that is a better concept than it is a movie.
Full credit to Steven Knight who not only makes the M6 (perhaps the most boring motorway in the country) visually interesting, but also never lets this one-location slow the film down. There have been many one-location movies that have succeed in this, but Knight gets more from just the front seat of a car than most directors do with an entire city. His script also paces itself very well with the story and character motivation being told through the making and receiving of phone calls from his wife, his boss, the mother of his soon-to-be-born child and a co-worker who he has to coach through his job and help beat his need to drink. There are a few clunky moments in the hammered-home and not-very-subtle backstory points and the overly-generic “football talk”, but the script is very well crafted.
Much praise has been given to Hardy for his performance as Ivan Locke and quite rightly so. He carries the entire movie on his shoulders as the only actor on screen with the supporting cast (including Olivia Coleman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott) being just voices on the other end of the phone. And even with his Rob Brydon-esque Welsh accent, Hardy disappears into the character of Locke and he never lets the accent overshadow his purpose or hinder his performance. While the script is as subtle as a sledgehammer at times, Hardy drops in subtle frustrations as he tries to justify and convince himself that he’s made the right decision. As an audience, you go through this turmoil with him and question his choice at every turn which can make the film very engaging.
Sadly however, Locke is not quite as great as many have made it out to be and is actually quite tiresome at times. If you take away Hardy’s superb performance and the fact it’s set in one location, there is really nothing to write home about with Locke. It has been posed as this “nail-biting thriller” and none of those three words really apply. It is good, but Locke is a movie that sounds better on paper than it is portrayed on screen. As a masterclass in how to make a movie with limited resources, Locke is spell-binding, but as an entertaining piece of cinema, it’s merely okay.
Locke is a movie that will please those who like to attend movie festivals and talk about the intricacies of its filmmaking, but it really only works for that crowd. Hardy is phenominal and Knight’s direction is flawless and if you can appreciate the hard work and genius that goes into a movie like Locke, this may be one of the most impressive movies of the year.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.