Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
I went with my gut and skipped the previews going into Locke. Tom Hardy plays the Titular Character Ivan Locke, a dedicated Construction Manager and all-around family man. On the evening before the biggest moment of his career, he gets a phone call that changes everything.
While it may not sound like much, what follows is a rather intriguing and downright compelling 85-minutes of cinematic creativity. The entire movie takes place inside Ivan’s BMW, save for a few establishing and tracking shots. We are in the thick of things with Ivan from the very start until the bitter end, listening in on every phone call he receives and experiencing every single nuance of his journey. While Locke never becomes as thrilling as last fall’s Robert Redford one-man-on-a-boat Opus All is Lost, it somehow manages to remain fresh with every turn and never becomes boring or derivative.
This is mainly due to Hardy’s absolutely spectacular performance. He makes Ivan’s struggle very real and very human. The Character is just an ordinary, blue-collar worker, but Hardy makes him seem extraordinary. Watching him emote and perform with only his face and upper body is practically a Master Class in acting, and is nothing short of fascinating. He drives this Movie both figuratively and literally, and only gets better as it progresses. He only has disembodied voices to work against (and himself in some instances), but you would never even begin to consider this to ever be an issue for him. Knowing Hardy was sick during the shoot (he actually takes real cold medication in some scenes) makes the performance that much more unique and otherworldly. I just wish his Welsh accent was consistent throughout, as opposed to only becoming decipherable halfway through the picture.
In his second Film as a Director, Steven Knight has managed to compose a micro-budgeted Picture that looks and stands just as tall as even the most expensive Films. The Film is so precise and tightly wound, that it is downright shocking to know it was shot in 6 days, with the cast, crew and Hardy running through the Film twice each night in sequence. Just beginning to try and understand the very mechanics and feasibility of something like that is simply mindboggling. But it just makes the film that much more captivating and interesting to watch.
While there are a few story hiccups along the way, Locke is a compelling film from start to finish. The one Character/one Setting idea is not blazingly original, but you would think otherwise after you see how great Hardy’s performance is. If he was not the next big thing or one to watch before this, he certainly is now.
Elevation Pictures release LOCKE in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal on Friday, May 9, 2014.