Lockeis a thrilling exercise in cinematic minimalism and an example of how little you need for a stimulating drama.
In a car.
Driving at night.
Shot in real time.
We watch as one man takes phones calls and struggles to keep it together.
The movie is like a one-act play on wheels: a speeding, shiny, leather-upholstered capsule of tension as Ivan Locke (the remarkable Tom Hardy) experiences the worst night of his life.
Director-writer Steven Knight says he decided to make Locke after working on a much more conventional action flick. Exhausted by the endless demands of the Jason Statham film Hummingbird, Knight (who previously wrote David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises and Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things) began dreaming of a more realistic kind of heroic journey.
After being inspired by some nighttime driving footage, the story of Locke was born. In the film, Hardy is the title character: the head foreman on the biggest concrete pour in European history. The mixers are on their way and he needs to join them to ensure the foundation is poured just right.
But, he's headed elsewhere.
In his shiny, black BMW, Locke is hurtling towards London, where his illegitimate child is about to be born. Well, maybe not quite hurtling because that wouldn't be his way. Named after rationalist philosopher John Locke, Hardy's character is a man of determination, one who plans everything out to the letter. He's not rushing to London because a speeding ticket is among the variables he has accounted for.
This is man who thinks that with enough words and time, he can fix everything. But, with every call he takes on his speaker phone, the cracks in his foundation spread.
Locke is a gorgeous-looking film, with the orange lights of the highway skimming over the sleek vehicle. Borrowing from the nocturnal visions of Michael Mann, Knight contrasts the chaotic outside world with Locke's last bastion of control: the calm and quiet world inside his car.
For Hardy, the film is an actor's equivalent of a 90-minute drum solo. Note the subtle changes in demeanour as Locke adjusts his approach (from harsh to soft) depending on which problem he's defusing and who's on the other line: his wife, the other woman, his boss or the hapless co-worker he left in charge. They're all there, waiting, as Locke barrels towards his destination.
Reportedly, after watching the film, Steven Spielberg called Hardy up to ask: "How did you do that?" Now, they're making movies together.
It's worth finding out why.
RATING: 4 out of 5
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