Locke


Director: Steven Knight.
Screenplay: Steven Knight.
Starring: Tom Hardy.
Voices: Olivia Colman, Tom Holland, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Bill Milner, Danny Webb, Alice Lowe, Lee Ross.

“I’ve made my decision”

Despite appearing in many films beforehand, I think it’s fair to say that Tom Hardy’s breakout role was in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson in 2009. Many (myself included) were instantly struck by his bravery and his ability to inhabit such an intense role. In that film he threw everything at us and since then he hasn’t looked back. What’s most encouraging, though, is that he isn’t afraid to spread his talents. He’s already done Hollywood: The Dark Knight Rises, Warrior and Inception, to name a few, but it’s in this small independent project that Hardy delivers some career best work.
Successful construction manager, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a man of principals and a dedicated father and husband. However, on the eve of the biggest deal of his career he receives a phone call which forces him to assess some choices he has made in life and sets forth a series of (e)motions that threaten to undo everything he has been dedicated to.Locke has a very simple premise. So simple, it would lead you to believe that it’s a very dull and uninteresting affair. It basically consists of spending 1hr 25mins stuck in a car with a man who does nothing more than talk through his personal problems with people on his hands-free device while driving from Birmingham to London. However, it’s anything but dull. In fact, the very simplicity of writer/director Steven Knight’s approach is what makes the film so compelling.Hardy talks a lot. A lot about his work in concrete; building development and laying foundations but the real development and foundations are built from his emotionally charged character.

Set entirely within the confines of his moving vehicle, the real driving force behind the narrative is the dialogue. It methodically peels back the layers of one man’s quest to right a wrong in his life and Hardy’s expressive mannerisms completely own the screen. Granted, he’s the only person who actually appears onscreen (Olivia Colman et al literally phone in their roles) but that’s not to take away from his exceptional and spellbinding performance.For a film that’s constantly on the move, it’s actually deeply rooted in character development. Ivan’s goals, achievements and morals are teased out with every conversation he’s involved in and Hardy’s emotion and nuance lends a captivating intensity to the overall mood and atmosphere.A claustrophobic chamber piece that defies the big spending studios by delivering something personal and intimate without digging too deeply into it’s pockets. It’s more like a one-man play than a film and a great example of how less can be more.

Mark Walker

Trivia: The license plate on Locke’s car reads “Adios” (playing with numbers as letters) which means goodbye in Spanish and is a recurring theme in the film.

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58 Responses to “Locke”

  1. It’s an interesting film, with an intriguing plot device of the primary character using a mobile to fill in the storyline and the results of what he’s done. It works or doesn’t purely on what Hardy conveys. He’s great in this, no question. That said, I’d give it 4 stars because I found everything going through the mobile could be sustained only so far for me. Fine review, Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 4 stars was my initial rating, Michael. And a fair one. I, however, gave it that bit extra for Hardy alone. I thought he was magnificent and managed to sustain the simple premise almost singlehandedly. That probably sounds a bit unfair on Steven Knight but I reckon he knew Hardy could handle this and just let him do his thing. I was completely hooked from the opening minute.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The set up sounds so intriguing and claustrophobic and I do love Tom Hardy. Nice work Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said Mark. It’s amazing what Steven Knight and Tom Hardy could do with such a limited budget and restricted premise. I absolutely loved it. I also loved you mentioning his bigger Hollywood roles, b/c comparing them to his Ivan Locke I think makes his Locke an even better character. This isn’t showy stuff, he’s completely human here and the film is that much better b/c of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed Locke…particularly Hardy’s performance but also the way the motorway is shot, and the way the lights are used. I must admit I started to tire of it before the end though, particularly when the histrionics at the other end of the phone really started to kick in, but it’s an unusual film and I think they carried it off pretty well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought it was beautifully shot as well, man. Hardy’s intense performance was the real draw for me, though. It felt like I was watching a one-man play and I never got bored or tired of it at all. That’s an interesting point about the histrionics towards the end. I didn’t really see it that way but it’s something I will definitely consider on a revisit. Cheers Stu!

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      • Yeah I can imagine this working well on a stage in a small theatre. I’d probably go and see it and I’m not big on going to the theatre. In terms of the histrionics it was mainly the numpty who was his second in command at the concrete pour that got on my nerves near the end of the film; I think the actor in question was probably asked to give it the big one and it didn’t quite work for me. It certainly didn’t ruin the film for me or anything like that, though, and I guess it’s tricky to play someone on the other end of a phone. I’m guessing Hardy wasn’t present when the other actors recorded their bits.

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      • Yeah, Donal! He was definitely an incompetent pain in the arse. He got on my nerves a bit too but I took that to be the whole point. It added further frustration for Locke. As for the actors recording their parts, I read that they actually played directly to Hardy in order to add realism. In some cases the director even encouraged them to wind him up in order to get a better reaction. If this is how it played out, I’m all the more impressed with the direction.

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      • Good point about Donal, and very interesting regarding the direction and the support; I guess it makes good sense to do that!

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      • I’d also heard that the consistent “call waiting” message he receives was actually an alert beeping in the car which would really annoy Hardy. Steven Knight kept his irritation in the film and dubbed over the noise with “call waiting” to fit into the story.

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      • Excellent. And not a man I’d personally like to piss off either!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, man! He seems like quite a dark dude. I wouldn’t mess with Hardy either.

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  5. There’s something about a film that takes place in largely one setting that always interests me, I don’t know why but it intrigues me

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hardy is such a good actor that I’d watch him do anything, let alone, talk to anything. Nice review Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad you liked this Mark! I remember loving it, but I saw it a fair while back now. Great film, great post mate. It was the first time I saw Hardy too, and ever since I’ve only seen excellence from him. I did see inception but I was drunk at the time ;D

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fantastic review! Loved Hardy’s work here – he was absolutely captivating. It’s really a big accomplishment when an actor can keep you glued to your seat with a movie with such limited setting

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks you Sati. I totally agree with you. Hardy is just superb and has you completely under his spell. It’s a solid performance that really showcases this guys genuine talents.

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  9. Fascinating idea, although I thought the main character was a bit pompous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t feel that at all, Mark. I thought Locke was quite a three-dimensional character that Hardy really excelled playing. I was completely gripped by this film and by Hardy’s performance. Cheers my friend! 🙂

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  10. I loved this film, primarily because Hardy is such a fascinating presence. The concrete metaphor is a little laboured, but dthis was a brave bit of filmmaking. Sterling stuff brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brave filmmaking indeed, man. And Hardy was something else wasn’t he? I personally didn’t mind the concrete metaphor. I thought it worked quite well. I was really taken with this flick. Cheers bro!

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  11. abbiosbiston Says:

    I was a huge fan of this film and Hardy’s performance was electric!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Another terrific addition to Hardy’s filmography.

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