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'Locke' review: A frustrating yet extraordinary dramatic thriller

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"Locke" begins its theatrical run in Houston at the Landmark River Oaks movie theater starting today.

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A more than reliable construction worker named Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) jeopardizes a nine-year career in concrete and a 15-year marriage when he makes a sudden 90-minute road trip to London one late evening after work. Ivan bails on the biggest concrete pour Europe has ever seen and whatever plans he had with his wife and two kids for a spontaneous burst of righting a wrong he's never told anyone about. Ivan now scrambles to sort out his complicated life from behind the wheel of a speeding car.

"Locke" is Tom Hardy in a car sifting through his Rolodex of contacts and being on the phone for 80-minutes straight. It's the type of concept similar to what Rodrigo Cortes was going for in "Buried." "Locke" may be a low-budget film that's simple in execution, but it allows its audience to rely on the actor's performance to get them through the film.

Hardy's on-screen presence in Steven Knight's dramatic thriller is riveting. Ivan Locke is ridiculously calm and composed with the life altering decisions he's made at the beginning of the film, but the events that transpire over the phone on Ivan's strange but determined journey not only pluck at his emotions but his sanity as well. Locke's arguments with his reflection in the rear-view mirror as he targets his neglectful father are disturbingly outstanding. Those powerful sequences show that Hardy needs nothing but a working camera pointed squarely at him in order to showcase his exquisite talent as a leading man.

The resolution of "Locke" leaves a lot to be desired even with Hardy's strong performance. The drama that unfolds is very realistic and believable. It seems like it could happen to anyone. While the plot is intricate, the plot points remain within the realm of reality and nothing stands in the way of the film's energetic pace. But you expect more when the ending rolls around. While certain things are wrapped up, the film feels a little short as it could have allowed another 10 or 20 minutes to be fully satisfying.

Witnessing a man being pushed to his breaking point is the best part of "Locke." Tom Hardy delivers an emotionally exhausting and attention demanding performance that's one of the best of the English actor's career. However the film fizzles out in its final moments as it offers dissatisfying closure. "Locke" wastes little time accelerating into exceptional territory, but it slows down and makes a sharp turn onto an under construction detour that slows the film down bringing it to an abrupt halt.


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