A man tries to solve the crises in his life while driving to London.
My main thought about Locke is that I’m very glad that it exists.
In a world where every second movie is a rom-com and comic-book flicks proliferate, Locke is that utterly rare thing – a totally unique film that doesn’t really care if there’s an inbuilt audience.
It may not make much business sense of Steven Knight’s (Hummingbird) film is a totally refreshing experience. Set completely within the confines of a car on a journey from Birmingham to London, it consists entirely of a lilting Tom Hardy having conversations on his phone. That’s it.
He’s a concrete farmer (that’s a real thing) initially trying to deal with a crisis at work and slowly revealing the real problem he’s careening towards. Hardy’s Ivan Locke is a fixer – he manages hugely complicated projects at work and when an issue arises in his personal life he attacks it with the same steady head and cold logic. Steps which are set to change his life permanently.
We hear a bevy of other, increasingly frantic, voices in the film – including recognisably pipes like Andrew Scott (who plays a drunk Irishman), Olivia Colman and Alice Lowe but otherwise this show is entirely Hardy’s. And while his Welsh accent is often less than convincing, he totally mesmerises in the part.
That’s down to Knight’s dialogue and the characterisation. Locke is a really strange chap, a man totally obsessed with concrete and equally convinced that his current course is right and just. He’s used to controlling situations and uses the same calm and measured tone no matter who he’s dealing with. Sometimes it’s justified, other times it comes off as condescending, even entirely monstrous but he manages to talk his way through every situation. It’s an amazing performance.
Apart from the slightly dodgy accent, Locke’s only real mis-step is a curious plot device to give Hardy someone else to talk to. Otherwise it’s a terrifically tight 85 minutes, with great low light photography and an engaging score by Dickon Hinchliffe.
Locke isn’t a film that’s going to be seen by a lot of people – arriving in few screens and disappearing within a week. But if you manage to catch it now you’ll be experiencing something totally unique and strangely invigorating. When was the last time that happened at the multiplex?