‘Locke’ goes to show that even a movie that takes place entirely in a car for all 90 minutes of it’s running time can be just as tense, cinematic, and emotional as any other film. Written and directed by Steven Knight and starring Tom Hardy, Locke is one of the biggest surprises I’ve seen this year. It has more in common with a one-man stage play than any movie that I’ve ever seen, only comparable to movies like ‘127 hours’ or the underrated ‘Buried’, however this is overall a better film than either of those. Ever since I saw Bronson, I knew Tom Hardy was going to blow up, and he absolutely makes this movie. Locke is one of the most intense movies I’ve seen in a long time, and for a movie that is essentially one guy driving, talking on the phone to different people, I’d say that’s a huge accomplishment for everyone involved.
So Locke begins with construction foreman Ivan Locke leaving a construction site, hopping into his elegant BMW. From there, he begins calling both his family and one of his coworkers about how he isn’t going to be home to catch the game later that night, or make it to work the next day. It sets up a nice mystery box, as it left me wondering just where Ivan had to go so urgently. Especially when it’s revealed that one of the largest concrete pours in history was happening the next morning, and Locke was supposed to oversee it. He tells his coworker that he’ll have to do Locke’s job, which he understandably freaks out over. It’s one of the main narrative threads in the movie, and although they speak in very technical terms about the logistics of overseeing a concrete pour of that magnitude, ‘Locke’ never loses sight of the tension that comes from thrusting a job like that onto someone who isn’t prepared for it. Aside from that, we find out that Locke is going to see a woman giving birth to his child, after a one-night stand. He also happens to be married, with two boys, which further complicates things. Over the course of the ~90 minute drive to the London hospital, we see this mans life fall apart, and it’s an incredibly tense and tragic journey.
The best aspect of the movie to me, although the great writing is worth taking note of, was Tom Hardy. This guy has been great in everything I’ve seen him in (yes, yes, I loved him as Bane) and with Locke, every aspect of him is on display (and is this his real accent? SO badass). The movie might as well have been shot on a roller coaster, because that’s how you’ll feel watching Ivan Locke struggle and fight to overcome all of the obstacles in his path. He starts out calm and collected, but slowly starts unraveling as his life falls apart, as well as the conversations he has with his father, who he talks to like he’s in the backseat. These scenes with his father help illuminate just why Locke is putting his entire life on the line to bring this child into the world. Having been left by his father early on in life, he doesn’t want the same for his future son or daughter, even if it tears his personal and professional life to pieces.
Like I said, the entire film takes place in Locke’s BMW, but it never feels limited or gimmicky. I’ve heard some complaints that the movie doesn’t feel like a movie, or very cinematic, but I strongly disagree. The cinematography is used in a way that compliments the emotional state of Ivan Locke. Scenes of him being angry at his father or upset about his family life falling apart become blurred and dark, and the camera shakes with an uneasy tension. It goes to show that a movie doesn’t have to have a huge budget, or even be a life and death situation to be an incredibly gripping and emotional ride.
Hey guys, thanks for checking out my write-up on Locke. It’s been an absolutely amazing year for movies so far, and it’s not even awards season yet! I’ve decided that I will for sure still be writing up movies that I see well into the end of the year and going forward, but a lot less regularly. You can expect at least a couple movies a week though, still the same format of ‘movies I’ve never seen’. It’ll likely be a lot of new ones in the coming months, but I still have a huge list of oldies that I’ll be writing about, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!