The first scene of the film we see Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) leaving a huge construction site with his hard hat, reflective vest and rubber boots on. He gets into a very nice car and drives away from the site, as it’s apparently quitting time. We follow him as he drives down some city streets until he gets to a stop light with his left turn signal on. We don’t know it yet, but Locke is making a decision that might change his life. If he turns left, he goes back to his very stable life as a construction site manager, happily married with two sons. If he turns his car right, he goes into the night with the certainty that his world will be changed. Locke turns right and we go on a journey with him that is one of the most suspenseful and exciting films of 2014.
Soon Locke is fielding phone calls from his kids, who want to know when he is going to be home for the big soccer match. Calls from his boss, who wants to know why he is leaving town on the night before the largest civilian concrete pour ever in Europe, one that he is supposed to be in charge of. Calls from the very worried man who will be in charge of the pour if Locke doesn’t turn the car around and come back to the worksite. And finally, from his wife who wants to know where he is headed to and why.
Thus begins our ride along with Locke, a film that develops in “real time” with Tom Hardy as the only person who appears on screen during the whole film. If you would have told me that a film where we ride along with a character for 85 minutes would have been so well done and incredibly moving, with a performance by Hardy that is truly a Tour de Force, I would have said you were crazy. But it’s because of the script and direction of Steven Knight and the mesmerizing performance of Hardy, that this film feels more like it’s 45 minutes long and puts you on the edge of your seat better than any adventure film released so far.
It’s seems like such a simple idea, follow a man as he makes phones calls while driving down a highway at night but it’s such a tough act to pull off. It takes an actor that we instantly root for to bring this film to its fruition and Hardy is up to the task, in probably his best performance to date. Locke isn’t a complicated man, in fact you can tell by the way he talks to his workers and his kids that he sees things usually in black and white. He is a man to who believe rules are to be followed with discipline and resolve. Locke sees it his duty not to let anyone down. But through Hardy’s performance, we see a man that has to make some tough decisions and some of those decisions are certainly going to hurt some people. For the most part, Hardy gives a restrained performance but as we would expect. He lets us see that this isn’t easy for Locke to make. He is determined to do the right thing, even if it hurts the people that he loves and respects the most. Hardy lets us see in his eyes and his expressions how much this weighs on Locke.
This could have come across as just a character study but under the direction of Knight, it’s more a suspenseful thriller with plenty of twist and turns. Knight uses incredible camera placements, most of which are inside the car, making us feel as closed in and isolated as Locke does. Little character tells come out in the script, as Locke needing to get to his destination as soon as possible, is passed by car after car. If as Knight has created a character who won’t speed, the risk being too high for Locke to try it.
The cinematography by Haris Zambarioukos is superb and the editing, by Justine Wright keeps the pace going, building the tension as the night and the miles roll by. I especially enjoyed the musical score of the film by Dickon Hinchlife. In a lesser film, Locke would have played songs on his car sound system, letting the music tell the story. In this film the soundtrack is kept to a minimum; with many of the scenes accompanied by the sounds of the highway and the tension of the callers voices as they talk to Locke, slowly discovering what he has done.
This is a powerful film with one great performance by Hardy, who delivers what the director provides him with gusto. You won’t regret going on this adventure with Locke, in fact it might be the best road trip you take all year. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again
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The film is playing exclusively at UA Cinema Tara 4