LOCKE Movie Review
We’ve seen many memorable performances from Tom Hardy but none of the characters he’s portrayed have been as grounded as Ivan Locke. Steven Knight has written and directed a film in which Tom Hardy’s character remains in a car for 85 minutes, only interacting with voices on the phone and Knight deserves credit for creating a thoughtful and engaging experience within this confinement. You see Locke isn’t dealing with the stakes of life and death like Gravity or 127 Hours , these stakes are purely emotional.
Locke is a family man and a proud construction worker, who lives a very calculated existence that he can control, but one phone call on the eve of his biggest concrete job threatens to unravel everything in his life that he’s carefully managed to put together, and he’s risking it all with his own free will. Nine months earlier, Locke made a mistake with a lonely older woman that he barely knew but nothing is going to stop him from being there for the birth.
Locke is staged like a piece of theatre and as we hear the callers on the other end of the line, the imagination opens and we envision what people on the other end are doing. There are angry monologues that Ivan delivers to his dead father that sometimes pushes the subtext a bit far, but basically his father’s bad example compels Ivan to attend this birth at any cost, despite the consequences. All of the tension derives from why he’s making these decisions and the moral dilemmas he faces. Locke’s choices might not be agreeable, but his dignity of following through on his choices are admirable and painful.
Hardy’s performance, Welsh accent and all, is as minimal as the setting in all three angles, yet hypnotically compelling. We might not share Locke’s passion for concrete but we can understand why it fits him well characteristically and drives his need to have control of his life situations. There’s a consistent theme at play that draws metaphors between his job and social surroundings, some characters have strong moral foundations and others have weak ones. There’s a great moment that’s slightly poetic, when Locke slows down to an abrupt stop and there’s all the other vehicles with their drivers that most likely have their own stories to tell. Locke is the story of a man that wants to be in control of his own destiny, who’s motivated to prove something to himself. We’re not asked to judge his moral compass or side with his decisions, just observe him and consider the obstacles he faces and reflect them with our own, it’s all about perspective.