Ivan Locke is going on a nightly journey because he has behaved not at all like himself. But he is a good man and is going to take responsibility for his fuck-ups.
The movie starts with Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) getting into the car at a construction site. For a moment he fidgets at the traffic lights, but then he turns right. And as his night ride starts and the movie starts rolling, we hear him calling various people that he will be away because he has something urgent to do. We don’t know why or what he is going to do, but everyone is really upset that he suddenly drives away. I won’t say anything more. The conversations in the car slowly unfold the plot.
Locke (2013) is many things. It is a character study. It is an exceptional movie that deserves more attention. It is also a vehicle (pun intended) for Tom Hardy to show off his acting skills. Why was that a pun? Because the whole movie takes place inside Tom Hardy’s car. That’s right. The movie starts with him entering the car and ends with him arriving at his destination. What happens in the movie is in real time ticking away. It is a very focused and minimalistic movie, a bit like Phone Booth (2002). I hope that doesn’t turn you off because Tom Hardy is quite a different actor from Colin Farrell. He’s calm and controlled, for one thing. Also, the night scenes of Hardy driving his car with the lights going past are quite tasteful and atmospheric.
Tom Hardy is good in everything I see him do. For Locke, he uses a grave voice. He tries to keep everything under control by calmly explaining people what to do. He is a humane character albeit sounding a bit emotionally distant as if he is managing people all the time. He also affects a strange accent. But his fear and tension are written on his face and you can’t help personifying with him. The movie is about the demons of the past, about personal integrity, about difficult decisions and sticking to them.
You know how driving at night is almost hypnotic? The lights flash by in various shapes and colors. Your mind drifts, you are isolated and cocooned from the day and the rest of the world. The movie feels a bit like that. The best thing is to put this movie on, and just let it pull you in and watch the whole thing in one go. It is a short movie – not even 1.5 hours long, and it stays interesting from the first moments. Even though it is all about him driving a car through the night, the tension and the pacing stays on the level.
It is not just a gimmick; it is solidly directed with a good feel for emotions and their impacts. There are moments when tension rises, and thoughtful moments when you and Locke think about what happened. It’s a sharp and controlled film.
“You see? Life. I will do what needs to be done. You have to be solid.”