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A surprise at the 57th London Film Festival. A film where the whole
story takes places inside the confines of a car, and with Tom Hardy as
the one-man star. But just how well does it work?
Tom Hardy, known best for majors roles in The Dark Knight Rises and Inception drops the theatricality and larger than life appearances and takes on the role of average man Ivan Locke, a building site manager, who over the past nine years has made his life as solid as the concrete he is in charge of pouring. Concrete is his religion. On the eve of the biggest job yet, also Europe's largest ever - we follow his car journey from Brighton to Croydon as the world around him slowly crumbles and he loses it all.
British Screenwriter and Director Steven Knight, brings us yet another gripping British drama, after previously making Hummingbird starring Jason Statham earlier this year. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Locke is refreshingly short and never over stays its welcome. The narrative is actually so constant that even when Hardy is not in hands- free phone switchboard mode, we capture another underlying story. Locke provides just as much a character journey as it does a car journey.
During the recent UK Premiere, producer Paul Webster recalls his initial talks with Steven Knight, in which he said; 'I want to do something quite different, in a confined space, about a guy whose life changes during the course of one car journey. And we never leave the car.' And that is literally what happens. Bringing an ideal mix of humour and emotion to the project, Hardy's taunt performance is mesmerizing. The put-on Welsh accent is pretty decent also. Filmed in just eight nights and with very low budget, the film is literally a lesson of how unique and quite fantastic minimalist cinema can be.
Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a successful construction manager who makes
a major decision on his journey home which will impact on every aspect
of his life.
This a low budget drama from writer and director Steven Knight with Hardy the sole screen presence. As he takes to the road he is seemingly a man in control of his destiny, determined to do the right thing only for everything to slowly unravel. Through conversations on the phone he tries to negotiate an emerging crisis at work with his boss and an evolving domestic situation with a concerned wife and sons desperate to have their dad home to watch the football.
With a premise of just one actor in a confined location it is testament to Hardy's acting nous that he can pull off such a taught, powerful performance solely based on reactions to the increasingly dramatic phone calls. Locke is unrelenting in his belief of doing the right thing and we see why when he has imagined conversations with his father, an apparently neglectful and emotionally absent figure in his life. These scenes in particular are beautifully shot with the use of Locke looking into the car mirrors for the man who isn't there.
It wastes very little of its short running time and overall is a captivating and rewarding film with a terrific central performance.
Here I am, giving lectures to fathers about maintaining the different
relationships in their lives. But alas!, how does one demonstrate the
ideal, even if you might know such a person?
In comes this film Locke, demonstrating integrity, responsibility, caring, loyalty, firmness, perseverance, plus some more good things about being a man among men. Forget about Hercules, Braveheart and so many attractive and well muscled heroes. Here is a man who knows how to be alone, how to overcome rejection, how to lead colleagues, how to embrace his children,how to accept his wife as a person even when she acts unfairly, how to be fearlessly honest.
And yet he is not some miracle. He gets extremely frustrated an angry, but he can allow it to happen without picking on someone else.
What a movie!!
...Locke provides irrefutable proof that he is. Tom Hardy is absolutely
captivating in this role, and he has to be. It's all about his
character Ivan Locke driving in a car. That's the setting. All forms of
dialogue are from Locke and from calls he gets ingoing and outgoing
through the car. The weird thing is, you don't even notice it after a
while. Everything flows so smoothly and Tom Hardy's performance
completely captures everything you'd expect from this character as he's
experiencing these dilemmas - you believe every word out of his mouth
and every subtle nuance in his expressions. Tom Hardy owns this movie
and Locke really is the perfect vehicle (literally) for showing off his
barebones acting chops.
The story itself is that Ivan Locke is a construction worker who just got off his shift and is now driving back, but then gets some calls that give us insight into what he has going on in his personal life and his work life and how Locke responds to this information as it gets progressively more stressful. It's incredible that a movie at only 82 minutes can go through such a roller-coaster of emotions, and as short as it is the movie still flies by because you're so drawn to the character. One of the voices is Locke's coworker voiced by Andrew Scott (Moriarty from Sherlock) and even as a voice-over his performance is totally convincing and his back-and-forth with Hardy is electric and at times humorous. His wife and other parties bring drama into the equation and as things start falling apart for Locke it dips into psychological thriller territory.
Steven Knight deserves much credit as well for having written and directed the film. It's so smooth and sleek, from the highway shots to the few overhead shots of the city at night. It's beautiful and adds the ideal atmosphere for this one-man show to maneuver in. It's a wonderfully written movie, wonderfully directed, perfectly acted (seriously, this is the performance of Hardy's career), with a spot- on supporting cast of voices. Locke is a mesmerizing movie from beginning to end. If you're a Tom Hardy fan or a fan of good cinema in general, you're doing yourself a disservice by not watching Locke.
Greetings again from the darkness. Most movies that take place in a
confined space are outright thrillers that usually take full advantage
of helpless feelings and desperate actions. Think back to Duel, Phone
Booth and Buried. A ticking clock and lack of a safe escape route had
us sweating bullets with Dennis Weaver, Colin Farrell and Ryan
Reynolds. This entry from the Dallas International Film Festival takes
a much different approach.
Noted British writer Steven Knight also directs this one, and rather than nail-biting tension, we get a pretty interesting character study. Mr. Knight has written some impressive screenplays: Dirty Pretty Things, Amazing Grace, and Eastern Promises. Utilizing every ounce of his writing expertise, he keeps us connected to Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) as he drives on the freeway with intermittent rain being his biggest physical obstacle. There are no high speed chases. No stunts. No weapons. Ivan is not being followed by a spy or anyone else. He is merely driving and talking on the phone via Bluetooth.
In what could be considered the ultimate film gimmick, Tom Hardy is the only actor to appear on screen. His Ivan Locke is not just the only major character. He is the ONLY one. All supporting work and conflict is provided by a multitude of voices on the other end of a phone call. There is no need for me to delve into the story or the plot, but you should know that the situation Ivan finds himself in is not some creative web of criminal deceit ... instead it's his penance for one poor decision. That poor decision has him in a tough spot with very poor timing.
For those that wonder if Bane from The Dark Knight Rises has the acting chops to hold our attention, a reminder of Tom Hardy's fine work should alleviate concerns: Warrior, Inception, Lawless, Bronson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He can act and he can make a character his own, just as he does with Ivan Locke.
Both in terms of technique and storytelling approach Locke proves to be a fascinating piece of filmmaking, as the audience accompanies a successful construction manager on a thrilling car journey, where he faces a massive, life-changing predicament, one that effects both his professional and private life. Tom Hardy is simply magnificent in the title role, portraying a highly complex character for whom one develops very mixed emotions, as he is respected and despised both at the same time. The film demonstrates great ingenuity and creativity with its concept, proving gripping and incredibly suspenseful throughout, the credit for the which can be equally shared by Hardy's marvelous acting skills and a captivating story that is flawlessly executed. The fact that a fairly simple film with a single actor, a single confined location and a long string of problems can produce such a spellbinding experience is nothing short of extraordinary, which certainly makes Locke worthy of the highest praise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was lucky enough to catch an early screening of this before it officially hits the States theatrically and I must say, this was quite possibly one of the best films I've seen in the last 5 years. Locke pits Tom Hardy as titular character going through a life crisis in real time while taking a drive into the London nightlife. Locke features Tom Hardy in, what quite possibly may be, the best performance from an actor that I've seen in quite some time. The film does very little in giving the audience much eye candy, considering the entire film takes place in Locke's car as he drives through the night. What this film does, which not many films do anymore, it relies solely on Hardy's brawny shoulders. With very little in terms of a pay off regarding plot, Hardy's tour de force performance engrosses you with every minute that goes by. There was not one moment I can think of where I was looking at my watch or was at all bored with it. To think that an entire film taking place in a singular location, let alone it being entirely in a car, would be heart pounding even had me a little skeptical. Fear not, Locke will have you gripping the handles of your seat and will have you talking about it even after the end credits roll. Many people will most likely dislike the abrupt and ambiguous ending but at the end of the day there was no other way to end this night from hell for this man. Steven Knight writes and directs a taut, white knuckle thriller here that deserves to be seen by the masses. I still can't get over how great this film was, so much so that when it officially comes to theaters, I'll be racing back to see it again. Overall, this is minimalist filmmaking with a one two punch for a lead performance. If you're fans of Eastern Promises and Dirty Little Things, you will love Steven Knight's Locke. And even if you are not fans of those films, the film is worth seeing for Tom Hardy's performance alone. I highly recommend this film.
I went to see the movie because the review of the movie said that it
would change what you thought about film making. This would be true if
you've never seen a movie before, but that is not the case.
Not to say that the movie is not good. It acts as a sort of one man play starring Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, a man who made a mistake in his past that threatens to unwrap his perfect life when he tries to do the right thing. The movie totally relies on the actor playing the role and Tom steps up to the challenge nicely.
But I've seen this kind of one man play with Buried starring Ryan Reynolds and Brake starring Stephen Dorff. I can even mention other movies like 127hours or Phone booth that have a similar concept.
What makes Locke different is that the pressure of life and death is not there. In those movies the leading (and only) men were threaten with the proposal of death, While in this movie, Ivan Locke's way of Life is threaten with change, and it's this change in the concept that made the movie Quiet and low key, but the filmmakers were still able to make if fast pasted and kinetic (having it take place in a Car going down the highway helps).
The movie had the same pressure of a ticking clock about to explode and the lead character attempting to talk himself out of the situation, but the filmmaker does not force the tension or thrills on you. Ivan Locke's situation is very down to earth and every day to day. Watching him attempt to deal with this situation could have come off boring after a half hour if not for Tom Hardy showing his mental acting chops (versus how physically intimidating he seemed as Bane in Dark Knight Rises, he's a small man in real life).
Though the movie was good to watch I could have gotten the same effect streaming it at home on Netflix. Recommend you do the same.
Apart from about 20 seconds at the start, the entire film is shot in
the confined space of a BMW drivers seat. There is only one physical
actor & about 4 different camera shots. Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke, he
lives a successful life in Construction & is a dedicated family man. He
is calm and collected and gives the impression that he is a man all
about control. In the time it takes him to drive from Birmingham to
London, his whole life changes, and you get to see how and why through
various telephone calls on Bluetooth loudspeaker.
Tom Hardy gives a very convincing performance and shows everybody that he is not a one trick pony and he can adapt well to different roles and scenarios. With Tom Hardy being the only star of this movie he really needed to bring a powerful performance that the audience can connect to, and he did this successfully in my opinion. The director stated that he wanted to make something completely different and fresh for mainstream cinema, there are other films out similar to this but the ones I have seen don't match up to Locke. This does feel unique and I can appreciate how making a film of this style must be challenging to make it entertaining and keep its viewers hooked. The run time is about right and at just over 80 minutes it's relatively short but I think this helps.
This movie is slow paced, its one man talking on the phone for 80 minutes, so if this doesn't sound like something for you then avoid! I personally found it tense and gripping. The film didn't head in the direction I thought it would but this isn't a bad thing. It has its own unique feel and this is always something I welcome in a world of cinema that is so saturated with clichés and over told stories!
When the credits rolled it did leave me thinking about the movie and had me thinking it over in my head. It actually made me feel quite emotional, this is all down to Tom Hardy and his performance. It is hard to say anything else about this movie without giving key plot points away!
For Locke's true power as a film to sink in you will need a few days to
sit and ponder upon its small yet intricate construction, for in a film
that is set almost entirely within the confines of one man's car, Locke
deals with many an issue and does so by uncorking a powerhouse Tom
Hardy performance and a downright believable script by Brit Steven
Knight who here makes up for his dreary directing debut Hummingbird.
There will be many out there that have no time for Locke due to its setup and in a way this is not an unjust decision by them for Locke requires much of you as a viewer and does not look to find a way around this. Not perhaps since Ryan Reynolds found himself in a tight situation in Rodrigo Cortes 2010 film Buried has a film relied so heavily on the audience to bear with it and a performer to hold our attention with nothing more than a phone (or Bluetooth) to act alongside with. Locke's tightly focused pacing and realistic scripting are both hugely successful but it is in the performance of Hardy that the film finds its true power and ability to stick with you days after release.
Oft cast as the hulking or manic presence within a film as seen in any of Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises or Bronson, Hardy hear is a steely at times inwardly reserved Ivan Locke, a man whose world is crumbling around him despite being sheltered by his luxury ride. Playing Locke with a welsh accent and with a vulnerability within both his eye, Hardy showcases a rarely displayed side to his acting talents that Knight uncovers to great effect. Whether Locke is demanding or pleading, Hardy is in control even though his character is slowly but surely crumbling from within. It's one of the year's best acting turns, unflashy yet utterly commanding, Hardy achieves more with a singly look than some actors do within an entire role. It's worth also mentioning the voice work (the only other people you will hear during the entire movie, no one else is ever seen) of the cast here in Locke, from Olivia Colman through to The Impossible's Tom Holland as Locke's son Eddie, all voice performers give soul to the voices we hear on the phone.
A movie to be watched in the tightest surrounds available to you, Locke isn't an easy watch due to its setting and not a movie made for overall public consumption. Locke is however an incredibly smart and well-constructed film that is the perfect showcase for the increasing acting prowess of Tom Hardy, an actor that continues to stake a claim as one of if not the most interesting and diverse performers in the business today.
4 Bluetooth calls out of 5
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