George Huertas ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is not a perfect man. Like the concrete he mixes, he is sedentary, and prefers order above all else. He possesses a sense of duty that outweighs the importance of his family, and has a tendency to keep secrets. But, he is a good man, or at least he is trying to be. And, as the result of him trying to right a wrong, his entire world begins to come crashing down in ninety minutes.
Steven Knight, the writer of Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things, wrote and directed this work, which functions largely as a one-man show for lead performer Tom Hardy. Hardy plays Locke as a man filled with conflict and self-doubt, as his attempt to rectify a moral transgression in his past dismantles his life in the present.
Hardy’s Locke has the look of a man who is tired, tired of the secrets he must keep, tired of the responsibilities he must bear. And, most of all, tired of the specter of his absentee father. Some of the most intense conversations in the film occur between Locke and the imaginary ghost of his father, whom he “sees” behind him in the backseat of his car.
Yes, his car. Locke is set almost entirely, save for a few minutes in the beginning, in Locke’s BMW X3. And attempts to characterize the film as a completely one-man show seemed a bit disingenuous. Locke engages in numerous conversations with his car phone, with his wife, his sons, his work, etc. And all serve to contribute to the slow and steady breakdown of his life. Judging from his reactions, Locke has been preparing for this breakdown for a long, long time. He takes most of the bad news (“Ivan, you’re fired,” etc.) with a note of passivity. Still, he finds himself possessed by a sense of duty, and attempts to do what he can from the position he finds himself in.
Under Knight’s steady direction and Hardy’s riveting performance, Locke turns what could have been a gimmicky exercise (begin and end a story, in real-time, in ninety minutes) into a riveting and intense portrayal of one man and his attempts to keep his life in order as it all comes crashing down around him. The action on display is just about as exciting as anything that can be seen in a Hollywood blockbuster or thriller.
For ninety minutes, Ivan Locke is held captive by the film’s narrative, and he is unable to pull himself away. And we are unable, too.
Overall Grade: A-