I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Locke

tn_lockeYou 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.

mp_lockeYou 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.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 10:20 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

22 Responses to “Locke”

  1. Locke: Concreting the poor

  2. For a moment i really thought that he had his dead father on the backseat.
    At daytime he´s just a normal concrete-guy and at night he´s like a killer hiding the bodies in the fresh pavements…something like that.

  3. There was not blue screen at all, according to imdb it was shot in one week, and any time Hardy curses because the line is cut it’s actually because the car was running out of gas. I guess the car was trailed, it would be dangerous for Hardy to drive and be this focused on his acting at the same time…

  4. “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.”

    Brilliant, I’m there opening day.

    I really was in some suspense when he revealed to someone else that he had the affair and was going to see the baby mama to be, and then he revealed that his next phone call was going to be to his wife, and I was all like “Oohhhhh shit, she gunna give it to him!” and then it’s funny how it took awhile for him to even get her on the phone, his kid was all like “the game is on the telly, we got the beer you like,” and we’re like oh maan this guy is kind of a dick, for doing this to his nice family, and so on and so forth.

    Anyway, good stuff. Great review, too. Cracked me up.

  5. Sine the movie has apparently a completely different name here, according to the embedded German poster above, it explains why I thought this movie hasn’t been released over here yet. (I guess they changed it, because “Locke” means “Curl” in German.)

  6. Magic, the Blu ray extras confirm they did the whole movie each night rather than driving in segments.

  7. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 20th, 2014 at 7:33 am

    I reviewed this one in the forums, but with way less spoilers. Something that may not mean much to you ‘orrible foreigners out there, but threw me for a loop: Tom Hardy plays Locke with a strong West Wales accent. I’m not quite sure why that is because having him live near to the M6 while speaking with an accent that sounds like somebody from Aberystwyth is kinda the equivalent of, I would imagine, having a movie where the main character is from Colorado but has a strong Deep Southern accent. I don’t get it.

    I liked it, but it’s only fair to say that a couple of the other people in the audience came out of the cinema swearing that it was one of the most boring things they’d ever seen. I don’t agree with that reaction but I can definitely understand it. It was marketed as a thriller, and whatever the heck else LOCKE is, it isn’t that. I’ve made the point about the DVD cover that Vern mentions here before as well. Honestly, between that and the copy of DETENTION that made it look like a FRIDAY 13th sequel or something, I’m not even sure if the people who design the DVD covers even bother to watch five minutes of the movie, or whether they’re just told to stick to the same “formula” because that’s apparently what sells. So be aware, if you’re going to see this one, that it’s very much a one-man tragic drama. It feels like a proper Greek tragedy at times (although I could’ve done without the father bits.)

  8. I, too, was under the impression that this was a thriller, although I’ve never seen any actual previews for it, just regular old posters and internet advertisements. The most misleading advertisement I’ve come across is probably the one for Catfish, which promised an internet age thriller similar to The Blair Witch Project, but ended up being a routine and cliche documentary about the shocking fact that people on the internet aren’t always who they are in real life.

  9. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 20th, 2014 at 11:15 am

    RBatty – I actually liked CATFISH, but then I went into it without expectations. I thought it gave a pretty balanced view of all involved, and the main characters were likeable enough and their story interesting enough that I wanted to see how it would turn out. But yeah… BLAIR WITCH PROJECT it ain’t.

    Moving back to the topic at hand, though, I’m not quite sure how you do advertise a film like LOCKE. The cynic in me also wants to know exactly how much the makers of the car and phone used throughout the film actually paid the makers of it!

  10. I went back and watched a trailer for Locke, and it in no way matches the description of the actual movie. I’m glad I didn’t see Locke in theaters, because I think the distance between my expectations and the actual film may have ruined the movie for me. I also remember hating What Lies Beneath, not necessarily because the movie was bad, but because the trailers had given everything away.

  11. I can’t express enough how much it delights me that a documentary about catfishing pulled a bait and switch in its advertising.

  12. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 20th, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    RBatty – I deliberately avoided all trailers for WHAT LIES BENEATH. It paid off because I actually really liked that movie. Didn’t see the reveal coming either.

  13. I remember thinking that the bathtub scene in What Lies Beneath was really well put together. I honestly can’t critique the film on its merits because the first third or so of the movie was focused on the couple next door, which was a red herring. And from the previews it was clear the couple was a red herring, so in theaters it felt like the movie was just spinning its wheels.

  14. WLB was the movie Zemeckis made in between chubby Tom Hanks and anorexic Tom Hanks while shooting CASTAWAY. Not bad for a filler.

  15. At my viewing of WHAT LIES BENEATH, at that bathtub scene, when she was walking down the hall to the creepy music about to go into the bathroom it was all quiet in the theater and then suddenly a woman’s voice said loudly, “Aw hell no!” For awhile I would tell that story, thinking it was funny and then I found out that it’s a racial stereotype that black people talk loud at scary movies and I was mortified to be perpetuating the stereotype. Then I got all confused, because it really happened to me. If it really happened does it count as a stereotype? And it’s a funny story. Now I’m not sure if I should tell it or not.

  16. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 20th, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Maggie – funny thing – us Brits can occasionally be really impolite in cinemas (specifically, people talking on their phones during the screenings. Seriously, shut the fuck up.) But other than that we generally sit quietly and take whatever’s thrown at us. There are exceptions. The screening of THE LAST STAND that I was at – which was basically the first screening of that film in Wales, I think – was just awesome, a packed cinema full of action movie fans who’d come out to see an Arnie movie and who were ready to cheer at the good bits. (They were on their feet for the flare-gun kill.) And PROMETHEUS had the exact opposite reaction, with a cinema full of people who’d obviously come expecting something great, and who disappointedly – and noisily – turned on the movie about half-way in, getting more and more vocal and angry as it progressed.

    But mostly we just sit and take whatever’s onscreen. I’m the same – I’ve only ever actually left two movies halfway through (BAD BOYS 2 and BOYHOOD – unfortunately I was at the BB2 screening with a friend, so had to go back in eventually) but I remember sitting through the whole of both BURIED and TRANCE in a numb, disengaged silence. I saw TRANCE with a friend who thought it was ok and was surprised at just how much I’d disliked it because I’d just sat there, silent, throughout the whole thing. BURIED I was the only one in the cinema for. It was the arts cinema, so I had an hour’s journey home no matter what happened; but I remember thinking, I’ll stick it out, and see if this awful, awful movie redeems itself at the end (it really doesn’t). But if that had been a local cinema I probably would have left halfway through.

    This even applies to LOCKE – I remember sitting quite close to a young couple in the cinema who sat through the whole thing silently but then started complaining quite loudly about how boring it was on their way out. (That was the couple I mentioned in my comment above.) I would’ve have guessed it from their action – or lack thereof – in the cinema.

  17. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 20th, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    I meant, I NEVER would’ve guessed it from their action in the cinema. They just sat still and weren’t vocal at all. As far as I thought about them at all, they seemed pretty engrossed in the movie. Then they came out and were saying things like “Thank God that’s over.”

  18. Steven Knight also writes all the episodes of Peaky Blinders which is fantastic television.

    Also, I actually work on a site which will have the most concrete ever used in a UK construction projects. Hinkley Point C. Although i haven’t cheated on my missus.

  19. Maggie – That’s a tough one. On the one hand, the stereotype of someone yelling at characters on screen can be read as someone who won’t stand for bullshit character decisions in Hollywood movies, so it could have a more positive connotation. But if you tell that story around people who already have a stereotypical image of African-Americans, then it might get real uncomfortable real fast.

  20. This is one of my favourite movies of the year so far. The Brits seem to be on a roll with this, CALVARY and UNDER THE SKIN.

  21. you know what? I fucking hated this movie and I’m not afraid to admit it.

    If I wanted to see some guy talk abnout his marital/work/daddy issues I could literally watch anyone on the planet for a day or two.

    Is this entertainment?

  22. I know a lot of people on this site prefer their media enscribed onto wax cylinders instead of streaming on the Devil’s Web, but I have to put in a recommendation for Netflix presents Frank Grillo is WHEELMAN. If you saw LOCKE and thought “I wish this was about a grizzled ex-con getaway driver caught up in a double cross instead of a building site manager dealing with his family”, this is the movie for you. It has the same never-leave-the-car gimmick as LOCKE, so it’s great to see Frank Grillo succeed in carrying this whole movie. There are angry, curse-filled phone calls and tense, quiet scenes where you are stuck in the car watching some shit go down from a distance. Shea Whigham and Garrett Dillahunt are in it. As you would expect there are car chases, but the claustrophobic way it’s filmed means it isn’t a car chase movie in the traditional sense. There’s a gnarly death by gunshot that I’ve never seen depicted in quite that way before. It clocks in at just over 80 minutes, which is the perfect length for a gimmicky film like this. Gets in, gets out, doesn’t waste your time or overstay its welcome. Like a guy who drives the car at a bank robbery. You know, the car guy.

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