You guys want to see a Tom Hardy acting showcase that doesn’t involve muscle gain? Then LOCKE is the KEYE! This is the movie where the entire thing is Hardy driving in his car and making phone calls. I honestly thought that meant a Larry Cohen type high concept thriller, but it’s not that at all. Just a drama, a character study. But that’s cool.
Hardy’s character Ivan Locke has a 90 minute drive to a hospital. While he’s driving he’s also trying to:
1. Convince the brass at his construction company that it’s okay that he decided to ditch work on the big day they’ve been working toward forever when he is supposed to oversee the largest concrete pour in English history.
2. Supervise the pour by talking people through it on the phone.
3. Calm down the emotionally fragile one night stand who’s at the hospital about to give birth to his baby and thinks she loves him.
4. Break the news to his wife that he had an affair and got someone pregnant and plans to be there for the kid.
5. Come to terms with feelings he has about his father abandoning him.
6. Observe traffic laws.
You know what it is, it’s CALM MAX: RESPONSIBILITY ROAD. He keeps telling himself that if he’s relaxed and rational about all this he can make everything right. When the people at work flip out he keeps telling them “This is the decision I’ve made,” as if that settles it. When his panicked in-labor one-time mistress wants affection he’ll only talk about fulfilling his responsibilities. When his wife is devastated at the revelation he explains why his affair was a mistake but what he’s doing now is morally correct. It’s all very logical, but of course none of these people want to hear fucking logic right now. They’re justifiably very emotional, and his cold calculation is really not helping matters.
There are other actors in the movie – voices of people he talks to on speaker phone – but it’s clearly a one-actor showcase, like TALK RADIO or THE TELEPHONE. And it’s nice that he can show off in such a laid back way. He keeps it under control. Very little scenery chewed, which is a good thing because there’s very little scenery. It’s just this car and the road around it. Lots of Tom Hardy face and reflections on the window. And it’s convincing that he’s really driving. I’m sure there’s gotta be tons of green screens involved, but it fooled me, and that’s important. Alot of potential for cheesiness there if it seems like he’s just fake turning a steering wheel in front of a moving background.
It must be interesting to be one of the other actors in this. Kind of thankless, nobody even knows you’re in it. Or you could claim you weren’t in it even if you weren’t, and people wouldn’t know. I was in it, for example. You didn’t know I was in LOCKE? I was really good in it. The best part was doing a dramatic pause after he said something. Leave then in suspense about how you are reacting to it. A powerful tool in my toolbox, I found, when I was in LOCKE, playing multiple characters like Peter Sellers.
By the way, hats off to Locke for using speaker phone. Not just because we get to hear both sides of the conversation, but because of safety. This would be an even more uncomfortable movie if we had to watch him driving with one hand and the other hand cramping up. Or if we had to look at him with a bluetooth in the whole time.
Writer-director Steven Knight is the guy that wrote Cronenberg’s excellent EASTERN PROMISES and directed the not-well-enough-known Jason Statham drama REDEMPTION, aka HUMMINGBIRD. I guess this has in common with those a double life, betrayal, an anti-hero under extreme pressure, and the lack of a cookie cutter story. But it’s missing a foreign crime family working out of a restaurant and a sweet, unrequited love story. Instead it’s two depressing quitting-love stories. What’s the deal, Steve Knight. Get it together.
Be careful – the quote on the cover says that Tom Hardy’s acting is “EXPLOSIVE.” Not the plot. And when it says “suspense” it doesn’t mean who will live and who will die, it means will any of these people forgive this guy for pulling his dick out that one day and fucking everything up for his wife, his kids, this lady, a new son, all his co-workers and his bosses and their company and anyone counting on the cement to be poured in properly so that the street doesn’t collapse and they die or whatever? You know what Ivan Locke, if you can’t handle not sticking your dick in a hole that’s gonna have that many repercussions maybe you’re not ready to have your own dick.
Anyway, it’s not a white knuckle thrill ride. It ends with more of a “Hmmm” than a “!!!” You don’t really know what happened, a blatant sequel set up. I think this LOCKE franchise will be pretty cool, sort of the uneventful version of THE TRANSPORTER. He has to drive around and make increasingly more difficult phone calls to emotional co-workers, family members and acquaintances.
LOCKE is a good enough title, it shows that it’s just about this guy. But another accurate one that could be mistaken for a thriller title would be MULTI-TASK. Also it would be funny if the distributor forced them to splice in a part where stock footage makes it look like he goes off a jump and another car flips and blows up. But this version will have to do.
Anyway, cannot wait to find out what Locke’s next case is.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.