Locke literally consists of Tom Hardy driving in a car and talking on the phone for 85 minutes.
Somehow, it is riveting. In a span of a month, I have watched Locke about 5 times. I can’t get this movie out of my mind. You can have your intricately choreographed fight scenes, insanely stupid explosions, and over-indulgent sense of self like the recently reviewed Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Locke is unlike any other movie. However, I want to be clear: this is not for most people. I’ve had a difficult time trying to review Locke because I don’t know who else is interested in this type of movie. With a simplistic story and approach, it’s difficult to imagine Locke resonating with a larger audience and achieving widespread appeal. The story is basic and bare, but the dialogue is exceptionally well-written.
Beyond all, it’s a phenomenal performance from Tom Hardy. One of our finest actors with incredible range, Hardy’s portrayal of Ivan Locke—a hard-working, blue-collar concrete foreman—is transcendent. If Tom Hardy can put forth a terrific understated performance loaded with nuances, then audiences should be legitimately excited for the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road.
There is nothing that Tom Hardy can’t do.
When presented with the same lose-lose situation as Locke, most men would have driven off the road and straight over a cliff. Ivan Locke is not like most men. Despite the potential consequences, Locke makes a decision and drives in one direction towards a destination that will likely alter his life. In many respects, this movie could’ve been easily called Ivan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
What sets this awful day in motion is the result of one lonely unfaithful night.
At the very beginning, Locke gets a phone call from the woman with whom he’s had an affair. On this fateful evening, a woman who is not his wife is giving birth to his child. With the biggest non-nuclear or military concrete pour scheduled early in the morning, Locke is abandoning his job so he won’t abandon his child. Although everything is crumbling around him, Locke is doing his best to keep it together.
As the movie rolls on, Locke’s sleeves are rolled up progressively higher as he wades through the shitstorm he has caused. Locke is a man on a mission to right his wrongs. Regardless of how bad something may seem, you can always get your hands dirty and make it better.
Even though Locke is clearly physically sick, he doesn’t use that as an excuse. While driving to the mother of his unborn child, Locke is going through his list and checking it twice to make sure he is doing everything he can to keep the morning’s humongous concrete pour on-schedule without complications. No one can see him sweat, but Locke takes great pride and responsibility in being accountable and serving as the rock for everyone else even while he’s crumbling to pieces.
Ivan Locke is a man that is all about practicality.
Once a mistake is made, you can’t go back in time and undo it. But Locke’s hope is that you can make it better. He has to believe it. He must. It is that hope that keeps him going.
One of the more beautiful moments in Locke happens when Tom Hardy is describing what will happen if the foreman screws up the mixture of the concrete…
“My building will alter the water table and squeeze granite. It will be visible from 20 miles away. At sunset, it will cast a shadow probably a mile long. Now, if the concrete at the base of my building is not right, if it slips half an inch, cracks appear. Right? If cracks appear, then they will grow and grow, won’t they? And the whole thing will collapse.
You make one mistake—one little fucking mistake—and the whole world comes crashing down around you.”
It’s an allegory for Locke’s life.
While Ivan has taken great pride in his craft, he wasn’t as accountable in his personal life as he was professionally. The only time Locke stepped outside of his marriage has now resulted in a new life being brought into the world. That one (not so little) mistake has caused his life to slip beyond his control and now the rock-steady foundation he has cemented over years is crashing down directly on Locke.
As the Tom Waits of film, Locke is an experimental undertaking that is often uneven yet always captivating. Upon repeated viewings, there’s even more treasure to mine and more connections to make. While this Locke isn’t for everyone, this is my type of movie—cerebral, thought-provoking, and relatable in terms of being the type of man you want to be every day of your life.
A common theme in Locke revolves around what makes a man good.
Can Locke still be a good man despite cheating on his wife and fathering another child?
“The difference between once and never is the whole world.
The difference between never and once is the difference between good and bad.”
Good and bad, we are all a collection of our decisions and their consequences.