“Locke” – a film review by Gary Chew
I don’t mean to sound flippant about a rather serious movie that recently opened but … another title for “Locke,” for me, could have been, “Why I Don’t Have Telephone Service Wired Into My Car.”
There’s much more to the picture than that. First of all, Ivan Locke, — played by Tom Hardy — is driving a very cool BMW SUV throughout this movie of usual length. That’s it! And it’s, as far as the writer/director of the movie is concerned, one scene … with only a few segment-breaking montages on a night time freeway that Ivan drives … alone … with just his BMW and the cell phone plugged into it.
Brit writer, producer, director Steven Knight shows enormous courage imposing such limits on himself for a feature length film: no other on-camera actors, just Hardy; no actual stationary location or set. It’s all BMW, Ivan and his cell … all the time.
There is the whirr of traffic, horn honks and infrequent emergency vehicles streaking by Ivan as he attempts to handle more things at once than he probably should while seated behind a steering wheel that’s on the “wrong” side of the car.
London is his destination. Much of what Ivan juggles is important minutiae. The minutiae is what makes director Knight seem really courageous. There are other events and emotions occurring and being felt simultaneously — in the BMW and elsewhere — that are anything but insignificant in Ivan’s life. We have God to thank that Alexander Graham Bell’s invention can bring it all together for Ivan and us.
What’s outstanding about “Locke” are Knight’s visuals and Hardy’s performance. Knight wrote “Eastern Promises” for David Cronenberg and “Dirty Pretty Things” for Stephen Frears. Hardy can be seen in “Inception,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and an oldie, pretty goodie film with a younger Daniel Craig called “Layer Cake” … not to mention playing a Bat Guy bad guy perfectly named “Bane” in “The Dark Knight Rises” a la Christian Bale.
What Ivan Locke is up against, as he motors toward London in heavy, nighttime traffic is what keeps your attention. Listing the several issues before him would flatten your watching the movie, despite the excellent editing and camera angles in and outside the BMW … and Hardy’s turn as a man trying to do the right thing … which to the several talking with him on his cell are more than just chagrined.
For me, the Ivan character is a kind of guy I don’t resonant with too much. However, the man is an honorable person, if somewhat detached. But his detachment slips away as Ivan gets closer to London. What diminishes the detachment is what happens just before “Locke” comes to its finish. These are the moments when Tom Hardy puts his “performance foot to the floorboard” and merely acts his butt off.
“Locke” doesn’t have much in common with the recently Joaquin Phoenix film, “Her,” even though both are “on-the-phone” movies about men with “woman-problems.” I can tell you that Locke doesn’t fall in love with his phone. It would seem, though, there are moments in the film when Ivan ought to disconnect it. I think most guys would understand why there might be a good reason for doing so.
Me? I listen to good music on my car radio while driving. That way, I can better see what lies before me.