Imagine a movie that takes place entirely inside of a car.
Well, guess what? You don’t have to imagine it. Just watch Locke, starring Tom Hardy.
This movie was an interesting experiment, written and directed by Steven Knight, that required an all-star performance from its lead actor to make it work. And it got it. There is no other character in this movie we see besides Ivan Locke, a by-the-book construction manager, who seemingly is in full control of every facet of his life.
But then, on the eve of one of the biggest projects of his career, he receives a phone call that throws his entire existence into a whirlwind. He makes a split second decision, and by doing so, endangers his career and family.
The entire movie is him, on the phone, dealing with the consequences of his decision (and the actions that led to his predicament to begin with), with his wife, kids, co-workers and another woman whose involvement I’ll keep under wraps, so as not to give everything away.
I’ve always thought Tom Hardy was a very talented actor, but I think he got propelled to stardom so rapidly that we never got a chance to see it. After his supporting role in Inception, he became very popular, and then was featured in movies with other big name stars that didn’t really showcase his talents, like Dark Knight Rises, Lawless and the abysmal This Means War.
To date, I thought his best performance was in the 2011 fight drama, Warrior. What was missing from Hardy’s career was some independent films. In Locke, very much an indie film, he gives the performance of his career.
He brings alive the intricacies and quirks of his character. Ivan Locke lives a carefully cultivated existence, always thinking one step ahead and is never unprepared. So when something so unexpected happens, it was up to Hardy to really show us the confusion and agitation his character is experiencing. And he does. He also speaks in a very interesting British accent, quite different from Hardy’s own, that takes a bit to get used to.
Knight also deserves a lot of credit for his direction. In a movie that only takes place in a car, it was very easy for the action to become redundant, stale, even claustrophobic. But Knight does a really nice job showing us different camera angles and perspectives, both inside and outside the car, making us feel like right there, a passenger on the trip.
The movie also takes place in real time. The drive is approximately 90 minutes, which is how long the film is. It’s a nice contrast to movies that try so hard to manipulate and play with time.
Locke is unlike anything you’ll ever see, and it had to be a shorter length film for it to work. If it was closer to two hours, I don’t think people would be able to endure it. But it’s quick, and surprisingly suspenseful considering it all happens inside of a vehicle, and that in itself is a pretty spectacular achievement.