Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) has worked hard in the construction business to craft a good life for himself. Tonight, that life will collapse around him. On the eve of the biggest challenge of his career, Ivan receives a phone call that sets in motion a series of events that will unravel his family, job, and his soul.
Review by Louise Keller:
Brilliantly conceived and executed, Locke might give the semblance of being a simple film (a man talks on the phone whilst driving his BMW through the night); it is anything but. Writer-director Steven Knight (who penned Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises) has created a riveting morality tale about life, love, sex and the consequences. Tom Hardy delivers a tour de force performance as Ivan Locke who, during the course of the film, loses his job, his wife and his home. It's about a man on the road, taking a journey in more ways than one. With constantly changing visuals as the night lights assume their own personality, the complex simplicity of the exposition is staggering and we are on tenterhooks as Locke calmly tries to manage an evolving, explosive series of situations. The film grips you tight and never lets you go.
When Hardy's Ivan Locke says 'Make one little mistake and the whole world comes crashing down around you' (in reference to the concrete to be poured in the construction of a 55 story skyscraper in most important job of his career), he could be referring to his life. He repeatedly uses parallels between his job and his life as his proposition to make things right becomes apparent. In a quick series of phone calls to and from key people from his work and private life, the scene is set. Locke has stepped up to the moral podium and is facing the consequences. At first we are not clear as to the enormity of his decision - how important can a soccer game and a sausage dinner be? What can possibly be the consequences to being unavailable for the job in the morning?
Loneliness, happiness and wine are responsible for the events for which there are consequences, and throughout the incessant phone calls that take place during the film's 84 minute running time, the bearded Hardy keeps his cool. His actions are minimalist: he blows his nose, waves his hands, rolls up his sleeves and wipes away tears. Most telling is Locke's one-sided conversation to his dead father, to whom he repeatedly expresses their differences. And speaking of differences, there is a whole world of difference - according to his wife (Ruth Wilson) - between once and never. It's the difference between good and bad, she says.
Tensions rise and fall during each of the phone conversations - regularly interrupted by a call waiting. From one powderkeg to another, Locke rides the never abating slippery slope of angst, intent to make things right. The constantly moving camera and changing visuals bring a sense of motion as the BMW heads along the M6 motorway, headed for London and Locke's destination.
The simplicity of the structure and economy of the dialogue is astounding, as is the dramatic and emotional impact of the consequences. Stunning cinema.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Films called 'small' can grapple with large themes, dealing with huge stakes, especially personal ones. The more intimate the story, the more powerful it seems if the writing, casting and performances are any good, not to mention cinematography, editing, music and design. That's a lot of elements to get right, but Steven Knight has managed it with Locke, a tense, quietly explosive thriller, of which all but 90 seconds or so takes place inside a single car.
As Ivan Locke, Tom Hardy shows us a new facet to his already impressive catalogue of screen personas as the highly regarded construction site manager and ever-decent human being facing the consequences - and heavy price - of one uncharacteristic moral mistake.
What is the most striking aspect of this superbly observed screenplay is that we get a full, textured picture of Ivan Locke and his relationships with a raft of his wife, a woman from his one night stand, his work colleagues and even his dead father ... without seeing any of them. We hear them on the phone in a series of criss crossing phone calls to and from the built-in phone in his BMW as he drives from Birmingham towards London, 90 minutes away, trying now to do the right things by all these people - well, except perhaps his late and detested father.
Locke is neither a goodie or a baddie, but a complex, texture character, an everyman whose life's balance is thrown out of whack by a single moment which tips the scales carrying the full weight of his decent life, against him.
Irony and symbolism combine in Ivan's relentless efforts to ensure the foundations of 'his' massive building is safely laid with just the right type of concrete - while the foundations of his private world are crumbling. Locke by name, locked by circumstance, to the other drivers on this ordinary night on the expressway, Ivan is just another anonymous driver of an unmarked sedan, heading towards his uncertain future.
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CAST: Tom Hardy
VOICES: Olivia Coleman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Tom Holland, Bill Milner
PRODUCER: Guy Heeley, Paul Webster
DIRECTOR: Steven Knight
SCRIPT: Steven Knight
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Haris Zambarioukos
EDITOR: Justine Wright
MUSIC: Dickon Hinchliffe
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 28, 2014