Director Steven Knight is known for his writing skills by penning a few of Britain’s best films of this millennium including the absolutely fantastic Stephen Frears film “Dirty Pretty Things.” In spite of this, his claim to fame across the pond does not come from his filmmaking,but from creating the immensely popular quiz show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” Needless to say this is a rather cheeky bloke and his film “Locke” undoubtedly showcases this quality in every aspect.
Knight tells us so many details about the film’s singular on-screen character Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) before he even opens his mouth, which later spews nothing but carefully calculated diction. His BMW SUV suggests he is a wealthy family man, his fashionable clothes label suggest he is a posh businessman, but Locke’s weary eyes say it all. He is a man on his last leg, a man looking for absolution from a past transgression. One subjectively small mistake that could send his fake empire crashing down, which is oxymoronic considering he built this realm by running a concrete distribution company that constructs sky-scrapers.
On the contrary, he is no megalomaniac,but a simple man who has been labeled as running a “tight ship” by one of his clients. This a morality tale about a man who’s at a literal/metaphorical crossroad in his life while he sits in the ultimate hot seat.
Locke is the maestro carefully orchestrating his apparent swan song with a laundry list of phone calls to make on a fateful car ride. With his wife and teenage son at home occupied by a football match he makes his exit with the weight of the world being carried in tow. A simple premise that’s slowly unpacked with poise,precision and a fabulous bit of suspense that takes full advantage of the luxury BMW’s constricting confines.
Knight keeps the film completely focused as Hardy’s performance builds throughout the first half of the near real-time 85 minute experience. Tension is mounting and each tick of the clock eats away at our protagonist’s patience, until a jolt of kinetic energy is projected onto the film via the mental battle Locke has been waging with his departed deadbeat father. This is certainly a daring experiment that demands to be seen in total darkness in order to be utterly consumed by it’s sheer brilliance.
Locke wears many hats depending on whom he is speaking. He delicately speaks to his son with with the tenderness he longed for in his adolescent years, his underling as if he is Leonidas leading the troops into battle, and his wife as if he is begging for a ladle of porridge. You get the sense that this is a vulnerability he is not accustomed to dealing with, given the recipient’s perplexed responses. No matter which identity is assumed Hardy gallantly maneuvers through Locke’s psyche.
“Locke” is kept completely on track with little traffic holding it back along the way. Knight and Hardy are both committed artists that chauffeured the smoothest ride of the pre-blockbuster season.
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