Locke is writer/director Steven Knight‘s latest small-scaled thriller set inside the confines of a car, starring only Tom Hardy and a handful of voices. Locke is an interesting film, tackling such heavy topics in a manner that feels self-contained and personal, yet large and grand. The gripping real-time reveal of the film might turn away most, but those that take the time to give this one a try might be surprised by just how much it works as a solo character piece, driven by Tom Hardy‘s powerful performance and backed by Knight’s unique filmmaking approach.
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a precise man. He works as a dedicated construction manager and is also a loving father and husband. But that all changes on this one night, when he decides to take actions into his own hands and take responsibility for his life and the decisions that he’s made.
That’s the story of Locke in a nutshell. It’s a very simple film, structured around a plot with absolutely no fat and delivered like a shot of hard alcohol without a chaser. Steven Knight‘s Locke isn’t an everyday thriller that most will go out and find entertaining or enjoyable, but it’s a very well made film that’s only real problems rest within the film’s own limits, established to keep the film feeling tight and compact, but yet sometimes withholding.
Locke unfolds as a real-time event, meaning that it’s literally Tom Hardy in a car, talking on the phone while driving for nearly an hour and a half. You never see the faces that he’s talking to and he never gets out of the car. The film is just him talking and while that may sound boring to most, it’s actually the film’s strongest dynamic.
Tom Hardy is a class act and a performer that mostly goes under the radar for some reason. Here, he delivers a powerhouse performance without getting out of his seat. That’s no easy task for any actor, yet Hardy gives Ivan Locke just the right amount of skills to keep the character interesting and yet still slightly mysterious.
Locke is a real simple and yet deeply personal film that deals heavily with responsibility and what it really means to become your own man. Ivan isn’t his father’s son. He’s instead his own man that’s in complete control over his own future and the way Hardy expresses that and Knight exposes that is unique, because nothing ever feels gimmicky or over climactic and instead everything feels extremely contained.
This is where the film is either going to work or not work for you as an audience member, because most expect films with such a gimmick to shock and awe in a sense that’s more cinematic than this one might come off as. Locke is an intense piece of work and a strong character piece, but not in the traditional sense at all. It does all of this because of its simplified script that places importance on things that most might not find all that interesting when taking a trip out to their local cinema.
But that’s okay, because Knight and Hardy are working on a level that most don’t even have the patience to reach and that level makes the film shine for most of its running time.
Admittedly, Locke didn’t hold my attention as strongly as I was hoping, but only because I wanted the film to be something else entirely and that’s not a knock on director Steven Knight or star Tom Hardy, but more so with my own expectations of what kind of thriller this film ended up being, especially when compared to the falsely advertised trailers.
Locke is an emotional roller coaster and a ride that keeps you tense until the film’s sudden conclusion. Tom Hardy anchors down the film with a performance that will surely land him many future roles, while Steven Knight writes and directs the film with a certain amount of style and sophistication to keep things busy and on-edge, all within the film’s limited physical boundaries.
Locke – 7/10