Director: Steven Knight
Writers: Steven Knight (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott
Synopsis: Ivan Locke, a dedicated family man and successful construction manager, receives a phone call on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career that sets in motion a series of events that threaten his careful cultivated existence.
Steven Knight’s Locke is an intriguing film, but more importantly, it carries a weight that hopefully people don’t just pass over.
Knight has some solid camera work that is fluid and always moving, much like the pace and the film’s vehicle. As the entire film takes place in one location, the SUV that Ivan Locke is driving, Knight uses some creative techniques that keeps the film fresh and compelling. Knight beautifully drifts through the English night utilizing the highway’s natural lights and sounds, that is genuine to the location and makes you believe you’re in the car with Ivan. The pacing is executed well with perfectly timed comedic bits that don’t come out often, but when they do, it’s right on the money. In a film like this, there is potential for the film to become stale, but there’s not much redundancy and every action has purpose behind it.
How many times have we seen films like The Wolf of Wall Street that glorify bad people doing bad things? Probably too many to count. The importance of the film cannot be stated enough. Instead of witnessing another Dom Hemingway, we instead are thrown into the world of Ivan Locke, a concrete foreman, who is driving to London for a reason he wish he didn’t have to. Ivan is a good man. He’s married with two kids and has a job where he is highly respected and everyone loves him. However, we find out through many phone calls that Ivan, like all people, makes mistakes. And unfortunately for him, this mistake is leading to the birth of a child from a woman he hardly knows. What separates Ivan from most characters we see in film, and a lot of people in real life too, is the fact that he is aware of his circumstances and risks everything to do the right thing. He isn’t going to run away from his hardship, but rather man up and face the consequences of his action, even if that means losing everything. Meaning, he is the polar opposite of Jordan Belfort. There are several soliloquies throughout the film where Ivan deals with his past hurts, which are not going to define him. Those moments hit hard, especially right after where his sons call him to discuss the drama, where he is undone. The drama that unfolds is gripping, heartbreaking and ultimately something that will stay with me all year long. It’s about time we see a character who has character and is the example we should all strive for, especially when dealing with our own inner turmoil.
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Tom Hardy is incredible in what is easily one of his best performances. He sells the nice guy really well and as things crumble around him, we see him fight that turmoil that feels authentic and potent. Every interaction he has is via the phone and Hardy’s awareness of the situation was impeccable. He’s absolutely compelling from beginning to end. Olivia Colman and Ruth Wilson are serviceable as voices for the wife and pregnant woman, but it’s Andrew Scott who steals the show at times with is amazingly well-time comedic bits. All in all, fantastic work here.
Dickon Hinchliffe has been remarkably consistent while being mostly under the radar. His score here is subtle but fluid and has the perfect tone of the film. You won’t notice it much but when it’s gone, you feel it. It fills the space so nicely and added the right amount of drama that lifted Hardy and the elements happening around him.
There are not enough Ivan Locke’s in the world. Sure the guy made a terrible mistake, but we all do. The difference is that a lot of us aren’t willing to deal with the consequences and it says a lot about a man, that is willing to risk it all to do the right thing. A lot of the time, when we see these kinds of themes, it’s in our superheroes. This, however, is grounded in reality and feels very real. Women may view things a bit differently, as they are mostly hurt victims here (and who can blame them?), but the themes of struggle and how to fight through them is incredible. By year’s end, this will still be one of the more important films we see all year.