If you think a film about a man making phone calls in his car doesn’t sound like scintillating cinema, think again as writer-director Steven Knight and actor Tom Hardy are about to blow your mind!
What’s It About? Ivan Locke is a ordinary guy who loves his job and his family and leads a happy life. But the night before what could be the crowning moment of his career as a construction site manager, he receives a phone call that rocks his entire world. The film follows Ivan as he drives from Birmingham to Croydon, while his life unravels before him, one phone call at a time.
Verdict: Some might mistakenly compare Locke to films such as Cosmopolis or Buried, and while there are similarities, Locke deserves more than simple comparisons to other minimalist films.
In the first 10 minutes, we learn that Ivan is driving to Croydon for the birth of his child with a woman named Bethan (Olivia Colman). The problem is that Ivan was meant to be driving home to enjoy a football match with his wife (Ruth Wilson) and sons. On top of this, to go and support Bethan at the hospital, he’s had to walk away from a multi-million pound concrete deal, something his manager and colleagues are not too pleased about.
Hardy’s mild-mannered Welshman isn’t usually this reckless. Yet on this night, he finds himself in an uncontrollable situation that he somehow thinks he can still manage.
Shot in more or less real time over an 85-minute drive and with only one actor on screen, Locke could have felt like the road trip that never ends. But Knight’s script and direction and Hardy’s performance are so captivating and absorbing that it’s not a problem that Hardy’s is the only face you see for the entire journey.
Hardy’s previous roles in everything from Bronson to The Dark Knight Rises have made it clear he’s a fantastic actor, but this is his best performance to date and solidifies his status as one of the best British actors around.
Knight’s script not only allows Hardy to shine but also keeps the audience completely engaged. Every phone conversation is perfectly crafted to draw us in and help us empathise with Locke and each character he speaks to.
While the odd conversation feels a little less spontaneous, most of the calls feel completely realistic and there’s a surprising amount of humour in the various interactions. Showcasing emotions ranging from shock and fear to complete incredulity, the voice cast – including Sherlock’s Andrew Scott – do a brilliant job of bringing the story to life.
Throughout the film, there is a deliberate tension as to whether Locke will complete his journey. He has a terrible cold, is juggling a lot of calls, and he’s having to do a number of the things you wouldn’t recommend on a late-night car journey.
In one phone call, Locke explains, “One flaw in the foundation, and the entire building will collapse.” This line cleverly summarises the film’s entire plot: one mistake is all it takes for your world to come crumbling down around you.
Final Words: A film mainly focused on Tom Hardy’s face might sound like heaven to some and hell to others, but give Locke a chance and you’ll find yourself on the most mesmerising car journey you’ll ever see. Hardy is at his absolute best and writer-director Steven Knight executes a perfectly brilliant piece of minimalist cinema.
Locke (15) is out in selected UK cinemas from 18 April 2014.