By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
A movie that solely takes place in a driving car, featuring only one actor in the flesh may sound like a potential recipe for disaster. With a first rate script and stupendous direction by Steven Knight, and a brilliant performance by Tom Hardy, Locke is no disaster whatsoever. Locke delivers a tense, stressful, and emotional ride in the literal sense. Knight’s film nearly perfectly creates a genuine real life situation full of highs, lows, and everything in between. It is a night in a man’s life where everything seems to go wrong at the wrong time, but strength, will and determination are keeping him focused on the road ahead, if he could just put out the fires of past mistakes.
Construction foreman Ivan Locke has way too much on his plate. On the evening prior to a major step in the largest construction project of his career, Locke gets called away to deal with a personal matter. As he races toward his frightening and uncertain future, Locke spends the long car ride on the phone remedying work problems, revealing and explaining his personal matter to his wife Katrina (voice of Ruth Wilson), and fighting personal demons and issues, all while trying to deal with a mistake that may cost him everything that is near and dear to him.
Steven Knight’s film could very well be adapted to an incredible play; however, it would lose some of it power and intensity that comes from the cinematography and editing which really adds to claustrophobia and bleary eyed look of the film. Knight, his cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos, editor Justine Wright, and all of the technical and sound crew do excellent and meticulous work to have their audiences feel like passengers in this intense and gripping drive towards destiny. The perfect lighting and use of camera capture the blinding lights, the various color of neon, as well as the feeling and look of stress and fatigue while traveling at night. This is simply the icing on the cake, though.
Without Knight’s engrossing script and Hardy’s phenomenal performance, this drama could have become an exceedingly tedious affair. Knight wonderfully sets up the events and problems that Locke must face. Everything is happening off screen, but that actually never takes away the urgency and gravity of the situations. Ivan Locke’s literal road may have the usual problems of traffic and other minor obstacles, but the road he has taken in his life and career has provided more than his share of holes, speed bumps, and unexpected detours.
I do have one particular gripe with the film. As realistic as Knight keeps most of the scenarios in the film, I have some trouble believing the Ivan Locke would choose this night of all nights to finally reveal to his wife what he’s failed to tell her for months. I have a problem with the fact that he does this on the phone. It just seems so out of character to do this. I do realize that without this element, the film would have less drama, but I don’t find it too credible that a man like Locke would have done this. Then again, I could be giving Ivan Locke too much credit.
The one man who certainly deserves a tremendous amount of credit and respect for his work in this film is Tom Hardy. His extraordinary performance in this movie is reason enough to watch it. He beautifully captures the emotions, the exhaustion and the desperation of a man who may have dug himself too deep, but has the strength and intelligence to persevere. I know it is way early to start talking about acting awards, but I can’t help it. His performance in this film deserves high praise and recognition. He gels impeccably with his voice co-stars.
The commendable voice cast of callers includes Olivia Colman who portrays former co-worker Bethan, Ruth Wilson who voices Locke’s wife Katrina, Andrew Scott who offers hilarious work as Locke’s assistant Donal, and Ben Daniels who plays Locke’s boss Gareth. I must also laud the voice work of young actors Tom Holland and Bill Milner who play Locke’s son’s Eddie and Sean. They too add to the emotional weight of the movie’s drama and poignancy.
Well, enough with my superlative laden review. If my high praise isn’t enough to get people to see this movie, then multitudes will sadly miss out on what truly is a great film with an excellent performance by its lead actor. I know it isn’t typical summer fare, but so far, the expected big-budget blockbuster offerings have been no match for this smaller production. This one really does deserve to make a profit.