Locke Review

Last year we got Gravity, and this year we’ve seen ‘All is Lost’ and now, here, we have another great solo film performance to soak up. But whereas the former two titles had fairly big budgets, Locke strips it all away and puts a man in a car, on a drive, at night, on the phone… with Tom Hardy delivering an expectedly captivating, wrought and comprehensive display.

The Plot

Ivan Locke is a construction concrete specialist, and has been a good husband and dedicated worker, currently dealing with the biggest project of his career. After receiving a phone call, Ivan makes a decision which may change the rest of his life.
The film is only 80 minutes long and takes place entirely in the confines of the car with Ivan talking to various people on the phone, and sometimes with himself.

The Target

For those who appreciate perfect acting. It’s not for everyone, but I believe it will appeal to quite a wide audience simply because of Hardy and his stellar performance.

The Bottom Line

Steven Knight has somehow crafted a single setting film surrounding mainly one character, that isn’t boring. I say this because despite the numerous talents involved, it still takes something to move the story along in such a confined space, using dialogue to keep the proverbial wheels turning. It’s a masterful triumph without trying too hard because it does without so many usual film devices. In Cast Away Tom Hanks had an Island to move around, Sandra Bullock had confinement and then drifting in outer space to contend with, whilst Robert Redford had his boat and the open sea. Here though, its just Tom Hardy sitting and driving on the highway with a few phone calls (featuring the voices of Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott and Olivia Colman) which duly lends to the feeling of entrapment.

What Locke is, is a demonstration of good storytelling in a fashion the Europeans are so adept at executing – cordoning off a moment in time for an in-depth character study. It’s an emotionally driven story, taking you through the full spectrum with even some delightful lighter moments in and amongst all the tension and intrigue, as Ivan Locke’s life begins to unravel. All the conflict is internalized as the central protagonist is put through the classic pressure mill of emotions to test his resolve. It demonstrates the simplicity of life and how we as people complicate matters with the decisions we make, confronting the issues of redemption and what ultimately makes a good man, or on what basis we judge a man to be defined as good.

Strangely, I don’t see Hardy getting much overt recognition for this performance because as good as it is, it’s still reigned in as he exercises subtlety as his Ivan tries to keep control of his faculties amidst the unraveling chaos – it’s in this way that the setting of his car serves as a further claustrophobic device as he’s sets himself up on a course with little potential for deviation (also, hence the play on the convenient name of ‘Locke’).

Can one single simple choice, define a man?


The Good

  • The sumptuous performance from Tom Hardy.
  • Steven Knight's excellent direction managing to manoeuvre and captivate within the confines of a car - and not be boring!
  • A tight and excellent demonstration of basic storytelling. For what it is, its flawless.

The Kak

  • Perhaps a film to be appreciated more than 'enjoyed'.
  • Some might find the 1 man, 1 setting vibe tiresome


About the author

Steven Benjamin

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A Capetonian – the only son, amongst four siblings, of a demure working mother and a missionary (once upon a time) for a father. Humble and God fearing, I’m a writer looking to add a different perspective whilst also telling stories on the side. I’ve lugubriously turned to writing after failing in a mental attempt to become a Formula 1 driver. I’m currently also working on my spicy debut novel, "Peacekeeper"!