Reviewed by Ian Forbes
For those of you who aren’t into bad interpretations of comic books on-screen, and want more than a simple diversion, there’s a rather unique movie out there right now in limited release and if you fancy yourself a cinephile I think you should go check it out. It’s called Locke, and it comes from Steven Knight, the writer of Eastern Promises and writer/director of the criminally underrated Dirty Pretty Things.
Seriously, go watch Dirty Pretty Things and then come back to read this review. I’ll wait.
La dee dah. Bleep bloop blarp.
Okay, now that you’re sufficiently impressed by Knight’s work, add in that his new film stars Tom Hardy. Casual film goers mostly know him as Bane in the last Batman movie, or maybe from his role as the forger in Inception, and you may know he’s got the lead in the upcoming Mad Max movie. Those of us who love independent film, however, have had our eyes on him for a while. Hmm, that statement gets creepy when I want to use Bronson as the prime example. Okay, moving on.
What’s important here is that Knight has crafted a rather fascinating story in Locke and managed to deliver it in a narrative device that should bore the audience to tears. Aside from the first thirty seconds or so of watching Tom Hardy get into his SUV, which comes with a lovely hands-free Bluetooth phone system, the ENTIRE movie is us watching him drive for a little over an hour while he has a myriad of phone conversations.
Once you’re in, you never get out of the car.
You never see the faces of the people he’s talking to.
You have no real idea how the story is going to end.
And if you’re like me, you kept waiting for a car accident. But don’t be like me.
You see, Hardy plays a rather important cog in a multi-national construction company and he’s tasked with coordinating a complex dance of cement trucks in order to properly lay the foundation for a new building. Many millions of dollars are on the line. Well, he’s also got some personal business that can’t be stopped and so we spend this car ride with him. He’s fielding calls from work, home, and elsewhere; with each call slowly taking an emotional toll on him and we as the audience are given more and more glimpses into this man’s life along the way.
It’s a wonderfully simply and effective way of keeping us off balance but making it all feel quite natural and matter of fact. Of course, this doesn’t work if you’ve got a bad actor and so it falls on Hardy to keep us involved (even with an accent that I found to be a bit thick at times but I’m a Yank so forgive me, my British friends).
What’s so impressive here is that Hardy does it all without any tricks. In Bronson he was larger than life and it was about exploding off the screen with power, anguish, and rage. In Locke, he’s a very measured man who made one very, very bad mistake and is trying to take responsibility for things despite the net loss he knows will be the result for himself. It really is a fascinating evolution and devolution of a character, all packed into an SUV and about 85 minutes.
I knew absolutely nothing about the movie aside from its star and its writer/director before heading into the theater. However, such is my admiration for both men that I leapt at the opportunity to see the movie. If you’re a fan of either of them, or just want to see a movie being told from a very different perspective, and doing so in excellent fashion, then by all means track down Locke. It’s another example of how cinema can be more than a series of clichés and pandering to the broadest possible audience … if you let your writers, actors, and directors explore the creative sides of themselves that made them who they are in the first place. It doesn’t always have to be about getting a bunch of amazing shots to cut a eye-popping trailer. Here, it’s just about being a good movie. And for me, that’s enough.
Locke is rated R for language throughout.
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