With “Locke,” writer/director Steven Knight crafts a sui generis premise with a technique that has become increasingly popular in modern independent filmmaking. Utilizing one location and focusing on a single performance, an intimate portrayal of a man and his escalating situation takes shape. Actor Tom Hardy turns in an admirable performance, one that undeniably carries the film forward as much as the script allows. Too often the experimental nature of the lone locale and its solitary onscreen actor creeps to the forefront, taking the momentum away from Hardy’s almost monologic discourse. This minimalist approach has generally found the most success in mysteries and thrillers like “12 Angry Men,” “Rope,” and “Lifeboat,” and has been popularized in modern film with “Buried” and “Gravity.” It’s an interesting choice to examine a familial drama with such a method, but the questionable actions of the protagonist and the lack of a resolution offer only brief moments of a distinct vision.
On his way home after work, construction manager Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) determines to break the cycle of evading responsibility that began with his father’s neglect. Choosing to confront his predicaments head on, Locke calls his family and coworkers in an attempt to maintain order in both his personal and professional affairs. But as he drives to London on a life-changing mission, his world begins to crumble around him, despite his efforts to preemptively thwart the calamity brought on by his decisions.
Like so many movies over the years that are designed to exhibit a particular point of uniqueness, especially in terms of editing, photography, or location shooting, “Locke” is nothing more than an experimentation. It’s one that not only didn’t need to exist, but also doesn’t present an experience worth sitting through. It’s filmed almost entirely from within a moving vehicle, modestly skewing other projects’ ideas of telling stories completely from a limited area, viewpoint, or with a symbolic running time (“All Is Lost” and “127 Hours” are a few examples of recent excursions for comparable concepts). Here, however, there’s no suspense or thrills. It’s just an excruciatingly long, uneventful car ride, seemingly serving as an exclamation of the achievement, ignoring whether or not there’s any entertainment or artistry to be rendered.
Like the aforementioned works, “Locke” essentially only has one main character. Tom Hardy gives a blessedly convincing performance, which is altogether necessary for the undertaking to find success. He dons a Welsh accent, vocally mingles with all sorts of European associates, and contends with problems with his job, his health, his wife, his father, and coworkers. A rather obvious analogy with his concrete pouring occupation, concerning the importance of preventing even a single crack that can bring the whole venture crumbling apart (much like the life choices that threaten his familial happiness), demonstrates a significance for the events. But it doesn’t justify a feature film. It’s an ambitious endeavor that fails to impart anything other than moviemaking shot virtually exclusively in a car.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)