Movie Review - Locke

Tom Hardy stars as Ivan Locke, an engineer who leaves a construction site in Birmingham, England, and decides to drive to London, which is about a two-hour trip. The reason he makes that decision is because a woman who is pregnant with his baby is in labor and will give birth there tonight. This woman in London is not his wife. His wife and two sons are at home in Birmingham waiting for him completely unaware. At the same time, his trip will mean he won't be available to manage the early morning pouring of concrete for a 55-story high-rise being built. To kill two birds with one stone, Ivan uses his hands-free, car phone to instruct a fellow worker about managing the concrete. He also uses his car phone to tell his wife about his adultery and his pending child with another woman.

Written and directed by Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises), the tactic of telling this story in real-time, the real time that it takes to drive that stretch of the M6 highway between Birmingham and London in the dark, presents a challenge. It required keeping the film, the cameras and the character confined to the car. The majority of images then is Tom Hardy's face as he's behind the wheel. This means the movie rises only on the strength of Hardy's performance.

Hardy's performance is fine, but it's difficult to like the movie because in the grand scheme it's boring and rather dull. Add to that. The character is unlikeable. The reason for his affair is ultimately meaningless. His disregard for both women is proven with him waiting until the very last minute to deal with them and to do so over the phone is even further disrespectful to them, and rather horrendous. Despite his decision to drive to London, and finally face the reality and personal fallout, his real concern is strangely more with the concrete. He does tear up in the end when he hears from his sons, asking when he's coming home and he realizes his decision might mean he won't ever come back home.

The only time he shows true passion though is when things go wrong at the construction site. Yet, this might have had more of an impact, if by the end Ivan achieved what he actually he set out to do. When he fails on a personal level, Knight's film has the audience wondering why it was trapped in this car with this man at all. Doing the whole thing in real-time and all in his car becomes just a gimmick and nothing more.

In this case as I said, it's a rather boring gimmick. A year or so prior, Paul Walker appeared in a film called Vehicle 19, which also employed the gimmick of being set entirely in a car. Yet, the gimmick there was more exciting. For starters, Vehicle 19 was shot during the day and not in real-time with the camera able to look around and see the city surrounding it, the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, in a way not seen before. Knight's film is instead plunged in darkness and set up not to matter that Hardy is actually on the road. Knight could have shot the whole thing in a studio with the car in front of a green screen, and it would have taken nothing away.

Of the six people to whom Ivan talks on his car phone, Donal, his fellow worker, voiced by Andrew Scott (Sherlock and John Adams), was probably the one who was the best because he was given the most to do, which is a shame. The voice with whom we should have identified the most is that of his wife Katrina, voiced by Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre and Luther).

The way Ivan's pregnant mistress Bethan, voiced by Olivia Colman (Broadchurch and Twenty Twelve), is characterized is borderline offensive or just simply comical. She's looked at as this crazy, desperate, lonely thing. Ivan's boss Gareth, voiced by Ben Daniels (House of Cards and Beautiful Thing), and Ivan's two sons, Eddie, voiced by Tom Holland (The Impossible), and Sean, voiced by Bill Milner (Son of Rambow), round out the cast.

There was also a very confusing, or at least conflicting moment. When Gareth talks to Ivan the second or final time, Gareth tells Ivan that he sounds different. Ivan insists that he's the same. Later, when Katrina calls him back, Ivan tells her that he hasn't been acting like himself. If he's not acting like himself, then he's being different, which is something he denies at first to Gareth. Ivan, therefore, lies to one or both. I'm not sure why and I'm not sure I care.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language throughout.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 24 mins.


Popular Posts