• As it has one actor playing one on-screen character and occurs entirely within a BMW sedan, Locke probably should be an exercise in gimmicky experimentalism, one that plods through its run-time.
  • But, courtesy of award-worthy acting from a never-more-compelling Tom Hardy and even better writing from director Steven KnightLocke is neither gimmicky nor plodding. Instead, it is a taut psychological thriller, rife with heartbreak and empathy-evoking moments, all of them spurred by one man’s need to take responsibility and do what he thinks is right.
  • Ivan Locke (Hardy) is a hard man, one for whom life can be boiled into simple categories, some of which are sensible, and some of which are less so. But the categories themselves are unimportant; what matters is that they make Ivan an everyman. He is flawed, like all of us, and some of his decisions are questionable; why couldn’t he drive to London after resolving his work crisis? Would a few hours really make a difference?
  • But such facts help us understand Ivan, help us connect with him.
  • Something that is important in every film, but even more so in this one. As Ivan is the only character we see, we have to feel his emotion, or the entire endeavor will fail.
  • Therein is the primary reason Hardy’s performance is praise-worthy. With gravitas and subtle humor always befitting Knight’s plot, the actor makes Ivan live, ensures that we feel like we know him, even that we could be him, at least insofar as we too could face a life-changing moral dilemma.
  • Because Ivan is well developed and the story is uncannily well-paced Knight’s screenplay is exemplary.
  • The supporting characters, played by off-screen voices, are sufficiently complex, as well, perhaps stunningly so.
  • Additionally, Locke has proper thematic heft. It is hard to analyze interconnectedness. And even harder to do so within the confines of a single enclosed space.
  • At times, Knight’s direction fails to equal Hardy’s and the screenplay’s quality. His score, for instance, borders on repetitive. So too do many of his cut-away images.
  • But so what? This picture is unlike most others and very, very good. Nevermind its few flaws.
  • Final Grade: A-

21 thoughts on “Locke

  1. Tom Hardy is one of the best actors of this generation. I said it, I meant it, and I’m not willing to debate about it with someone who disagrees. Why? Because that person would be a total moron. This film is a shining example as to why though…

  2. Nice write-up! I enjoyed this film, though I seem to have a different take on it than most – most reviews suggest an empathy with Locke, whereas I felt it was intended to be an extended criticism of Locke and the version of masculinity he believes is necessary to be a “man.” Still, it works either way!

    • I think both arguments valid. I don’t need to like a character to empathize with him or her. And there is little doubt that Locke has made mistakes, meaning it’d be hard to fault anyone for judging him harshly. Or for thinking his outdated sense of masculinity ought to change.

      But either way, Hardy and the filmmaking ensure I know how Locke feels in every scene. It’s some great filmmaking.

      • Oh, sure! I guess I misstated my case, I still empathise with Ivan Locke somewhat – though that fades as the film progresses, I’ll admit – it’s just interesting how many critics I’ve seen (not including you in this count) seem to assume the film is structure to get “on Locke’s side”

      • Okay. Got it. Then I completely agree with you. Each time he said, “I want to talk about a next step,” I wanted to smack him. And I think that was probably the point.

  3. An excellent piece on an absolute achievement of a film. Good god this is going to be a CHORE trying to assemble my Digibread Awards for Best Picture this year man. And you’ve captured what I’ve been thinking about this movie perfectly here. Tom Hardy is incredible and the script matches his intensity

  4. I’m a fan of Locke as well. Managed to hold my interest all the way to the end. Hardy’s accent seemed forced though, as if he was behaving like someone older.

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