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Locke – Review


Release Date: 18th April 2014
Director: Steven Knight
Writer: Steven Knight
Cast: Tom Hardy - Olivia Colman - Ruth Wilson - Andrew Scott - Ben Daniels



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Posted May 25, 2014 by

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Locke Review:

When one considers the finest actors, in the West at least, of the 21st century, there are often three names that spring to my mind at least. What is telling is that two of these names are no longer with us, and the other is in a state of semi-retirement. The three actors I speak of, of course, are the late Heath Ledger and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the semi-retired Daniel Day Lewis. After viewing his performance in Bronson (Refn, 2008), I was convinced that one day Tom Hardy would take his place in this upper echelon of thespian greats. After viewing his fantastically underrated kinetic performance in The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan, 2012), I was convinced he was close. After viewing his latest performance, as the centerpiece of one of the tensest British thrillers I have had the pleasure of viewing in a long time, Steven Knight’s Locke, I am convinced that he may finally be there.

Locke is a relatively simple tale, with a relatively simple storyline. Ivan Locke is a happily married man, with children, and a hugely important job in which he is highly respected. One the day of an important delivery of concrete, a delivery that could cost the company multi-millions in revenue, Locke mysteriously abandons his work and his family, and sets off on a drive across country. I will not state why, as I do not wish to spoil a single thing for you, but let’s just say he makes a decision that is dictated by his past, and leads to the destruction of his ideal present, as his entire life collapses around him in the space of one night, and one car journey. The plot is pretty simple, and film hardly breaks any narrative ground, but that isn’t the point. This is an intense character study into how ones past can dictate ones future; how one can surrender everything due to his moralistic desire to “right the wrongs”. Most importantly, how one mistake can undo everything you worked for.

The unique selling point of Locke, and perhaps it’s central stylistic choice, is that the entire film takes place in one location, the inside of Locke’s car, as he heads across the country to right his wrongs. Hardy’s is the only visual performance we are given, as every other actor’s bit is done via audio, as all the film’s conversations take place down the phone. Plenty of pressure on young Hardy’s shoulders then, as he needs to bring a tour-de-force performance in order to ground the piece, and bring it he certainly does.

As per norm with Hardy, it is his gruff intensity that sets him apart; the way he begins his performance relatively calmly and simply, before eventually descending deeper and deeper into intensity and anger as his world unfolds beneath him. I said earlier that I firmly believe Hardy is one of the finest actors alive today, and performances like this only serve to underpin that belief. What is nice to see too is that he is deliberately made up in a non-sexualised manner, meaning he will hopefully avoid the “hot guy” label that I feared would take over his career. What Hardy deserves particular praise for, in my estimation, is he seemingly seamless ability to change his accent at will. It seems like something all actors should be able to do, but as we’ve seen many times before, actors often struggle to perfectly imitate accents. Not Hardy, who continues to show an impressive range, here displaying a new and very authentic Welsh.

Of course, this is not entirely a one man show, and with the exception of his son, voiced by the young actor Bill Millner, all actors give a strong and convincing audio performance, the exchanges between Locke and his wife in particular are at times very powerful. Millner’s performance as well is not awful, far from it, just unfortunately tends to sound exactly like what it is at times, acting, though the boy is young, and has time to improve.

Aside from Hardy for his driving central performance, the man who deserves the most credit for this inspiring micro-budget thriller is the director/writer, Knight himself. Knight’s screenplay is fantastic, it never sags, and it never bores the audience, despite the focus being entirely on one man. The directorial style as well is interesting and entertaining throughout, with predominantly extreme close ups of Hardy’s face, coupled with sweeping neon shots of the street, reminiscent of such driving based films as Drive (Refn, 2011) and Collateral (Mann, 2004).

Knight shows his maturity and intelligence as a director by displaying the classic “less is more” restrictive ability that only genius’ seem to have. For example, there are several scenes in which Hardy directly addresses his long dead father, who we are led to believe he can see in the back seat of his car. However, whenever we the audience are shown the seat’s reflection in the car, Knight Refrains from falling into the pseudo-surrealistic trap of showing us Hardy’s manifestations. Rather, we the audience are shown nothing other than what is there; a blank seat. This creates a moment that is all the more harrowing and chilling, as was a welcome piece of subtle and surprising cinema, in a rather subtle and surprising film.

If I had one issue with Locke, it is that this is a film for fans of film, and not particularly mainstream accessible. This a dream for both cinephiles and aspiring low budget filmmakers, as it is only those who will truly appreciate it’s subtle complexities; and, alongside the likes of Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England (2013), could serve as a “how to” guide on micro-budget film-making. It proves that you do not need a large budget, or even more than one actor or location. You just need a great idea, a fantastic hook, a mesmerizing screenplay, and a once in a talent like Tom Hardy himself to pull it off. Unfortunately, the majority of mainstream cinema goers seem to need these things in order to enjoy themselves, so it may not appeal to them. That said, I don’t think this film is for them. This film is for fans of cinema, true fans, and for those who can appreciate it, it is a rare treat indeed that demands to be seen.


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Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 19.25.05

Joshua Andre Moulinie
Freelance Contributor



    Nice review, Josh.

    I haven’t seen the film but I’ll be sure to watch it.


      Joshua Moulinié

      Thank you very much for comments of support.
      Needless to say, I highly recommend you give it a viewing.
      Please let me know what you thought of it when you do!

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