Locke Review

Locke

As per my usual levels of preparation, I hadn’t read up much on Steven Knight’s new film Locke before reviewing this.

If I’d known that it was all about a bloke sitting in a car for ninety minutes, making various phone calls to family and friends, I might have been more than a little deterred.

But hey, not so long ago Ryan Reynolds was stuck in a coffin making phone calls for ninety minutes and that somehow worked.

So why not this?

And work Locke does, solely down to Tom Hardy’s performance as the central, titular and incidentally only, onscreen character.

Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a high flyer in the construction industry, who is faced with a particularly unenviable choice as he makes his way home from work one evening.

His first option: drive home to his loving wife and sons, crack open a beer and watch the footie.

His second? Drive several hundred miles down to London for a reason which could tear his family apart.

Personally, I would have driven home and cracked open the beer.

But Locke, within his own parameters, is a nobler sort, and he makes for London, risking home life and career along the way.

The concept of the film is pretty straightforward- a man goes on both a literal and figurative journey- but the execution is where it excels.

Knight has made sure that Locke’s series of phone calls achieves just the right mixture between comedy, such as his frequent interaction with employee Donal, and tragedy, like his interaction with his wife and a tearful exchange with his son.

And the camerawork is innovative enough to ensure that, despite the majority of action taking place within a car, it never feels claustrophobic.

Then there are the performances, though that should be singular.

When a film consists of only one or two central roles, it’s pretty lazy to label such performances as ‘powerhouse’. But this is truly the case here.

Hardy plays Locke as the ultimate perfectionist who has made the ultimate mistake, believably depicting the disintegration of the man’s precarious juggling act between logic and emotion.

It is also a testament to the main performance that we can still identify with Locke, even if he is not the easiest chap to warm to.

It is highly likely, for example, that the mistakes he has made will initially lose him the half audience’s support, though his backstory played out via less-than-cheerful interactions with his dead father is enough to win him back some sympathy.

Supporting characters? There aren’t any really, though the likes of Ruth Wilson, Andrew ‘Moriarty’ Scott and Olivia Coleman provide sterling voice work as the Locke’s family and colleagues.

Speaking of voice work, I actually thought Hardy’s Welsh accent was admirable, but residents of The Valleys might disagree.

Ultimately, much credit is due to all involved for creating something memorable out of such a sparse concept, and for making Locke so much more than a ninety minute commercial for hands-free phones.

Conor Brennan

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