Locke (2013)

April 18, 2014


Director: Steven Knight

Duration: 85 minutes (UK/US)

Overrated Tom Hardy vehicle set in a vehicle.

If you like your Welsh accents sprinkled with liberal helpings of Eastern European (think Gavin & Stacey’s Bryn mixed with the (Compare the) Meerkats), then maybe this is for you. Indeed, the happiest parts of this viewing experience sit with the (unintended) fun in spotting when Tom Hardy’s voice veers off the regional motorway and into the ditch. It sure does happen a lot. You could probably make a drinking game out of it.

Plot-wise, Locke is located in the fixed location of a car as it tears down the motorway. Married Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is heading to London to attend the birth of his child. Except it’s not his wife’s child. It’s the child of his mistress, with whom he had an all-too-brief affair some 9 months previous. Unfortunately for Ivan, her labour has happened on the eve of the completion of an important project for his work. He also has to break the news of his whereabouts to his wife.

What happens? Well, he sits in the car and speaks constantly on the phone. Thank God it’s hands-free, otherwise the poor woman would have given birth, raised the child and sent it off to university by the time Ivan reached his destination. It goes on and on. 

There are moments in which this works. The framing of one environment offers a constrained pressure cooker for the drama to unfold, a la Buried (2010) but on wheels. The premise itself is intriguing. You have a construction worker whose life collapses during the course of a single journey (we’re sure you get the metaphorical irony there, folks).

This would make a wonderful play, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a wonderful cinematic experience. No matter how many camera angles are thrust – and from every conceivable vantage point too – tension is not a bottomless pit. The jostle for a kinetic pull is an arm wrestle lost early on.

This is a flawed experiment. Saying that, its intentions are noble and it’s surely better to have tried and come up short than not to have tried at all?

Locke is in cinemas today, 18th April 2014.

Here is the trailer:

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