IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 85 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Ivan Locke is a successful Welsh construction manager who is about to run one of the largest civilian construction projects in Western Europe, in the city of Birmingham. But instead of heading home to watch football with his wife and sons in Manchester, he heads to Croydon in London to be with another woman called Bethan who has no family or friends around in her time of need. While he drives on the motorway, he tries to keep control of his personal and professional life as it starts to collapse through his phone….
Locke is an admirable exercise no doubt, but I think it’s been rather over-praised. Films featuring only one main character usually result in strong acting, and here we have Tom Hardy as the only visible protagonist [the rest are voices on the phone]. Ryan Reynolds and James Franco are two performers who relished being given a chance to show what they were really capable of in similar films and truly came through, though Hardy has proved himself a pretty good actor already. Locke has us witness the unravelling of a man’s life through a series of phone calls to family, work and a woman with whom he has made a serious mistake. Even at the beginning of the film, he’s trying to do the right thing, and towards the end certainly seems to realise what’s most important. Writer and director Steven Knight creates some surprising suspense from conversations on things as dull as concrete pouring, and there is certainly some tension from a film which doesn’t rely on Hollywood gimmicks to try to jazz it up, but it’s hard to care about Hardy’s unsympathetic character, as good as his performance is, some imaginary conversations he has with his dead father are really badly judged and unnecessary, and the whole thing frustratingly ends really suddenly when it seems like there’s quite a bit to go.
Visually Locke is quite stunning, with some especially beautiful shots of lights forming patterns on Locke’s car, in fact I can’t think of another film which makes an English motorway look so interesting. Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos has finally atoned makes for the atrocious lensing job he did on Mamma Mia. Dickon Hinchliffe’s music also adds to the very relaxing, almost trance-like feel. Locke certainly isn’t boring- in fact it’s quite riveting – but is in the end unsatisfying. Steven Knight definitely shows much promise with his second directorial effort, and has done a fair bit from not very much, but it’s not quite enough to make his unconventional road movie really stand out.