Locke isn’t a big Hollywood film that will make a bunch of money. But it is an interesting and engaging experiment in film-making, one that I’m glad I experienced.
Sometimes a movie is just, like, an experiment. Not that it isn’t planned, but that it’s just something that when you hear about it, you think, “well, how is that going to be interesting?”. You know, like, say a whole film takes place while a guy makes the 90 minute drive from Birmingham to London and just talks to various people on the phone, and sometimes himself. Yeah, good luck with that.
But, what if it was more like this: Ivan Locke, a dedicated family man, a successful construction manager, receives a phone call right after work that sets in motion certain events that threaten everything that he has made for himself. And he deals with all of it right in the driver’s seat of his car. Ok, now my curiousity is piqued.
Construction manager? He spends a lot of time talking about concrete. Wow. Really? Are you sure this movie is going to be any good? Actually, yes, I am.
Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke, and he’s really quite good. What we experience in 90 minutes is like a Greek tragedy played out in a moving car. Locke gets a call that forces him to decide what kind of man he is; a true show of his moral and ethical character. But his decision comes with some overwhelming consequences. His entire life, personal and professional, hangs in the balance. Perhaps you already know what this is about, but I dont necessarily want to spoil it for anyone that doens’t. I didn’t know going in and at first I almost thought it was too mundane a quandry. I thought it wasn’t profound enough.
But as I watched Locke, I found myself being sold on it’s magnitude by the performance of Hardy, and the few voice actors on the other end of Locke’s phone. It was strangely effective. They all generated strong drama with so very little. In much the same way Ryan Reynolds made us feel for him in Buried, a film shot completely in a coffin-sized box, Tom Hardy managed to get me to feel his plight while just sitting in his car for a short time. That’s pretty impressive stuff.
I was increasingly in need of knowing how Ivan was going to make everything work out – IF he was going to make it all work out. And there are moments where Hardy’s Locke starts an internal dialogue directed at his obviously now-dead father that shine more light on his situation.
In addition, you’d think a film entirely shot on the highway inside of a car would be tough to make visually interesting, but cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos shoots Locke entirely at night where he can use reflections, motion, and car lights like an artists palette, creating a fluid, moving painting. It really is quite visually beautiful.
Locke isn’t a big Hollywood film that will make a bunch of money. But it is an interesting and engaging experiment in film-making, one that I’m glad I experienced. Written and directed by Steven Knight, who wrote Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises, Locke is worth seeing, even if you wait for DVD or streaming. I give it a strong three and ahalf kittenhands.
~ Neil T.Weakley, your average movie-goer, happy I took a ride with Locke.