We meet Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) behind the wheel of his car as it heads along a busy freeway, and over the next 90 odd minutes he continues on his drive, and we never leave him until the credits roll. Sure the camera angles change, and we get some nifty looks from outside the car looking in and vice versa, but make no mistake, the next hour and a half is all Locke, all the time.
Locke seems to be driving in a fog – though the air is clear – but he remains coherent and calm through his calls; a never ending stream of calls made to and from his in car hands free.
The initial calls are outward bound cancellations, informing his non-availability for the family night, for the big work job tomorrow – essentially all those expecting to see Locke in the coming day or two as Locke drives in the opposite direction.
Initial befuddlement quickly turns more heated. The construction site where Locke is foreman is scheduled to commence work on one of the biggest and crucial stages in the building of a huge skyscraper, leaving the staff feeling rudderless and angry, and the higher ups exceptionally concerned. More pressing is the home situation, with the kids and wife are expecting dad home to watch the big game over pizza.
Locke deflects the initial wave of curiosity but ultimately he is not a waffler nor a liar – not even when it would make things far easier. Just like his journey, Locke takes a straight line at his interrogators, unlike his journey this does not go at all smoothly.
The truth behind Locke’s motivation is hardly revelatory but doesn’t require me to spoil it. This is a remarkably simple film made with confidence and creativity. Very rarely does a span of more than 60 seconds go by without Locke taking or making a call. Dozens of them in all, with the unseen callers and callees in the double digits.
Through it all Locke stays level headed even as his very world teeters on the brink of collapse. It is a powerful performance by Tom Hardy, playing across from no one and with little more than the hum of his tyres as his accompaniment.
This is a film that will elicit a response of some kind. You’ll either wonder why you like it or know full well just why you hate it. I’m definitely an advocate for creative filmmaking with fresh ideas, and while I’d love to espouse the virtues of Locke from the rooftops, all I can tell you is that I found it original and worth a look. You’ll have to decide if it’s an amazing use – or waste of – your time.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. The film is like Locke himself; no waffle, no pretensions, no nonsense. Take it or leave it.