Even at the best of times, life can be a pretty tenuous thing and while movies have tackled similar themes before rarely have then been so simply and so beautifully. “Locke” puts us in the driver’s seat as an everyday man has to deal with an unfortunate situation that he has created and bear witness to his entire life crumbling around him.
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a dedicated family man and successful construction manager no different than anyone else, the kind of guy you could see as your next door neighbour or the best friend that you go have a pint with. However his idyllic life gets upended when he 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.
It’s such a simple film, but that is truly where the magic of it all happens because with one lonely man on one lonely highway, “Locke” simply couldn’t have worked any other way and it all makes for an incredibly gripping piece of cinema.
Such a beautifully basic experience, you are almost waiting for the other shoe to drop and expect this to be some abstract piece of storytelling, but writer/director Steven Knight has pulled off something that is practically impossible, because you wouldn’t think that 85 minutes of a single man driving in a car would make for an intense cinematic experience but it does exactly that. Shot at night, on the highways of the UK in a little more than a fortnight, Knight captures a beautifully sad and serene setting filled with shadows and light as our protagonist deals with the problems that are set before him and we anticipate the ones that are being foreshadowed for him as well. With some very deliberate and beautiful dialogue we are kept engaged in this man’s plight because quite simply that is all we have to work with. Knight never hammers us with anything too maudlin or too out of context as the tone is always shifting ever so slightly and when you marry that with the stunning visuals and excellent score it all makes for the kind of film that is rarely seen on the big screen. It’s very much an experience akin to the films of Stanley Kubrick or Terrence Malick if they were on a budget in a short shooting window, this film is that good because Knight had such a crystal clear vision alongside an actor who embraced the material and the concept at full force.
As quite literally the only actor to appear on screen, Tom Hardy got to live out a professional dream and a nightmare at the same time. While I’m sure that there are many actors who would like the idea of not having to share screen time with anyone else, there are rarely few who are up for the challenge and Hardy went above and beyond. With only the surroundings of the car to work with Hardy takes on an emotional journey that is fraught with peril as we see this man’s world crumbling around him and his powerless to it all, if only so he can start rebuilding it all once again. Hardy keeps us engaged in a vice of emotions that we know won’t be letting us go anytime soon. At the other end of the phone the likes of Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Alice Lowe and Andrew Scott played off of him on this journey but it all comes back to what might be Hardy’s best performance to date as he tries to keep it all together in the face of it all falling apart.
“Locke” is a big screen experience quite simply because it is a spectacle of out and out drama that is so easy to get lost in that you’ll want to watch it all over again by the time the movie is finished.
5 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound on the Blu-Ray are top notch and the special features include a making of “Locke” featurette and a feature length audio commentary track with Director Steven Knight.
“Locke” is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, Digital Download and On Demand from all major retailers and providers.