Locke Movie Review
A riveting performance from Tom Hardy makes this pseudo-thriller utterly riveting, turning even the most contrived plot elements into punchy drama. Like Robert Redford in All Is Lost or Sandra Bullock in Gravity, this one-person show also works as an intriguing cinematic experiment: telling an entire story centred only on a man driving a car for 90 minutes.
Hardy plays construction foreman Ivan Locke, who's set to oversee the biggest concrete pour in Europe. But at the crucial moment, he abandons his post and hits the road for a late-night drive from Birmingham to London. He turns his work responsibility over to his extremely nervous assistant (voiced by Andrew Scott), but has a tough time calming down the corporate bosses. He also phones his sons (Tom Holland and Bill Milner) to tell them he won't make it home to watch the big game, but he struggles to explain to his angry wife (Ruth Wilson) the reason he's driving to London to meet a middle-aged woman (Olivia Colman), who is also sounding rather stressed down the line.
As Hardy's character tries to salvage his marriage, family and career, his moral conundrum becomes increasingly intense, and Hardy plays him as a man whose internal turmoil is raging behind his confident voice. It's a remarkably effective performance, gripping and involving, asking big questions even if the script never quite gets around to grappling with the issues at hand. It's also playing rather heavily on the irony that doing the right thing is likely to cost Ivan pretty much everything, leaving him alone and despised like his father.
Fortunately, writer-director Steven Knight finds ways to reveal all kinds of details without ever leaving Ivan's side. The shimmering nighttime cinematography swirls blurred lights around Ivan's anguished face, offering glimpses of painful soul-searching. On the other hand, there are flashes of misogyny and some preachy moralising that grate harshly along the way. Of course, the people on the phone are like voices in Ivan's head, so even if they're very pushy on a plot level, they offer several movingly resonant moments. And the delicate final moments leave us deep in thought as well.