August 19, 2014


Steven Knight, 2014
It's the night before commencement of the biggest construction project of his entire career. Instead of driving home to watch a football match with his son, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) suddenly decides to drive away from everything to the shock of his employers and to his family. As he speeds down the highway, his life continues to unravel after each hands-free phone call.

At first glance Locke appears almost as if it's a sleek television commercial for BMW with the typical high-profile celebrity. As if BMW finally gave Tom Hardy an offer he couldn't refuse for a TV spot.  You soon realize that it's something much more compelling. Ivan Locke has made the decision to drive. And the decision to keep driving. Driving away from the much controlled existence that he has long been living in. Driving away from his high-pressure work duties that have long required his presence. Driving away from the familial obligations of watching football with his son and loyalty to his wife. For a good period of time you don't know what the limits of Ivan's conflicts are. The immediate seriousness of the situation gives you the impression that this could easily end in death for him. Does he owe someone money? Is he after someone? What is he hiding? He isn't silent about his personal history as he looks into the rear-view mirror, cursing his long deceased father. Almost as if he sees his father in his own reflection. Ivan has seemingly been an organized person. A man who thrived on strict order. A reliable person. As he keeps his foot pressed against the gas pedal, the reflection of the streetlights glide across the glass. The light constantly shifts from gold blurs to focused glows. A subtle abstract sound echoes in the background. Hardy is a commanding force, bringing a certain intensity to his complex Locke character. He is someone undoubtedly capable of carrying a film on his back.

In terms of construct, the film is actually quite similar to 2010's Buried starring Ryan Reynolds. A real-time limited storytelling piece consisting of one man and a phone. One could argue that Buried is more fierce, more forcible. Albeit undeniably more far-fetched. Perhaps that's the charm of Locke. The ordinary nature of the problems at hand. Ivan is a flawed man like so many in the world. The aftermath of a man who fell victim to his own impulses. But it's not a story of a man completely fleeing his personal shit-storm. He is actually in pursuit of something, some kind of shifting resolution to the mess that he has created. There is a determination to avoid repeating his father's mistakes. But Buried has a more lasting effect on the viewer. That particular story grips you until the very end, whereas Locke maintains a certain pace that carries on until the final moments without much excitement. We often go to cinema to take us to explore the incredible. Perhaps it would have been better if Locke took us on more of a journey with the story.

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