I love Tom Hardy. I can watch that man in anything and Locke is a great example of his versatility as an actor. In fact, this has become one of my favourite performances from him and one of my favourite films from 2014.
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a dedicated family man and successful construction manager. On one particular night he receives a phone call on the eve of the biggest professional challenge of his career which threatens his entire world.
“Well hear this, Gareth. When I left the site just over two hours ago, I had a job, a wife, a home. And now I have none of those things. I have none of those things left. I just have myself and the car that I’m in. And I’m just driving and that’s it.” – Ivan Locke
Did I mention that I can watch Tom Hardy in anything? That man is a phenomenal actor. His voice is so dreamy and cool….
(Ahem) Looks like The Geek lost herself for a sec and got distracted…
Seriously – I love this film. It may have been filmed with a low budget but it has that power to grip you from start to finish.
One of the unique aspects around Locke is its contained nature. On the surface it may just look like one person driving from Birmingham to London having endless phone conversations. But that is beside the point.
You’ll probably watch the trailer and automatically assume this is a revenge thriller where Locke is blackmailed for something he’s done in his past. In fact, it’s a little deceptive because the motivational reasoning behind his actions are far simpler than that. I don’t want to spoil what that mistake is because I think it would do it a disservice and destroy the uniqueness that the film presents. What Locke illustrates is how one moment (or mistake) can change everything. It’s amazing to see how a person’s life unravels during the 90 minute runtime and that’s because of the amazing performance from Tom Hardy.
“Do it for the piece of sky we are stealing with our building. You do it for the air that will be displaced, and most of all, you do it for the fucking concrete. Because it is delicate as blood.” – Ivan Locke
There’s a part of me that wanted Tom Hardy to go do a “Bane” on this. I mean, it would make a funny youtube video! But what you get instead is an honest yet restrained performance. Even when his life was crumbling all around him, you always got the sense of nobility about Ivan Locke. He’s made a mistake, he’s owning up to it and trying to take responsibility. You could argue whether the issue was a phone conversation scenario, given the seriousness and impact it had on the people who mattered to him, whilst at the same time multi-tasking around the events at work. However, there is a feeling of being powerless, not left with much choice which Ivan Locke embraces.
He was always trying to think rationally, working out what is practical for everyone and everything. Ironically, a long car journey is the perfect way to demonstrate that. When things were against him, he showcases a strong will and honesty that were commendable. He knows nothing about this situation is pleasing but with his calm reassurance, he’s just trying to do the right thing.
But he’s not infallible. Despite the rational thoughts, being practical and figuring out the next logical step, he does react. He gets angry, like anyone would. He sacrifices things which pain him, knowing how much it means for something that matters more. There’s a part of you where you think maybe he’s naive for thinking things could go back to normal. Could he have handled the situation differently? The answer is yes. But Locke could only see beyond the darkness which he put himself in, whereas others couldn’t and you certainly couldn’t blame them for that.
There are some brilliant moments where he’s talking to himself in a pretend conversation with his father. What’s clever about these moments? The camera and Hardy’s performance point to the invisible man in question as if he’s the back seat driver. How many times have we been in a situation like that where the person in the back is a know it all? What Hardy does in those moments is show defiance. I can fix this. I’ll show you that I’m not a failure. I can make a bad situation good. Because of these little moments, we get a greater depth to Locke’s personality.
As mentioned before, everything about this film is contained in this one, long car journey. It boasts a great cast but you only hear their voice on the phone. Don’t expect cutaways to see or view their reaction because everything is focussed on Locke. That’s the beauty of the whole thing. The isolated nature whilst listening to the emotional breakdowns over the phone, paints a picture only your imagination can conjure up. If Locke did the whole event face to face, characters can escape – runaway from a room or walk outside. With a phone conversation, it’s not that simple. You’re connected yet disconnected. You’re out of place, wondering what that person is thinking or doing once you’ve put down the phone. That element plays very well with Locke’s psyche throughout the film.
What Locke demonstrates is life for all its worries, troubles and complications. For some strange reason at the end of the film, I did have a bit of a feel good moment. It’s not something I can easily explain but it’s a realisation of how life continues to move forward, just like moving forward on a motorway.
I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, here it is for the third time – Tom Hardy is outstanding. Steven Knight’s direction and tight script allows Hardy to go through the motions that you can easily identify with. For an actor who has been in countless blockbuster films, it’s a great change to see Hardy in something restrained, unable to physically control the elements around him. His only power is his voice as he drives to his destination.
Be patient with this film and you will be greatly rewarded.