Review: LOCKE (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Review: LOCKE (2014)

While LOCKE is notable for Tom Hardy's brilliant one-man show, the movie itself isn't engaging enough to sustain its 85-minute duration.
While LOCKE is notable for Tom Hardy's brilliant one-man show, the movie itself isn't engaging enough to sustain its 85-minute duration.

From yesteryear (1944's LIFEBOAT, 1954's REAR WINDOW, 1992's RESERVOIR DOGS) to the present (2010's BURIED, 2013's ALL IS LOST), movies which takes place on a single setting are mostly populated in the thriller genre. But in the case of LOCKE, writer-director Steven Knight eschews the conventional thriller formula in favour of a chamber drama that involves a man in a car connecting with various callers through his hands-free mobile phone. On the surface, it's an interesting concept but the overall execution isn't as great as I thought it would be.

Set over the course of a single night, construction supervisor Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is leaving work and hops in his BMW X5. Instead of heading home to his wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson) and his two sons, Eddie (Tom Holland) and Sean (Bill Milner) as usual, he decided to make a two-hour drive to London via expressway to accompany his ex-lover, Bethan (Olivia Colman) for the birth of his illegitimate child. En route, he starts to make all kind of important phone calls ranging from domestic issue with his wife to the job complication concerning on the concrete pour.
With the help of Haris Zambarloukos' mesmerizing nighttime cinematography and Dickon Hinchliffe's moody score, Steven Knight manages to find visual beauty within his cinematic minimalism to shoot Tom Hardy from every imaginable angle (e.g. inside and outside the car, and especially the windshield that reflects the auto traffic as well as street lights along the expressway).

Speaking of Tom Hardy, best known to the mainstream viewers for his role as Bane in 2012's THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, gives a tour de force one-man performance as Ivan Locke. I love the way he demonstrates his low-key acting skill through the tone of his voices and facial expressions that conveys his emotional reactions as he goes through each phone conversations. It's the kind of captivating performance that deserves a standing ovation and worthy of an Oscar nomination. 

Tom Hardy's finest moments are best seen whenever he vents out his frustration over the ghost of his deceased father at the backseat of his car.

While I truly admired the level of acting commitment that Tom Hardy gives his all on the screen, Steven Knight's talky script doesn't come close to match with his impeccable performance. Over the course of 85 minutes, it's kinda hard to swallow the fact that Locke has to make various life-altering decisions through frequent phone calls dealing with his ex-lover and his soon-to-be-born child, his estranged wife and his problem at work all at once on a single night. Even if I have to suspend my disbelief for entertainment sake, all the dilemma that Knight has laid off throughout the movie is still lacking of dramatic urgency needed to sustain the narrative momentum right until the end.


If the narrative structure is as compelling as Tom Hardy's acting showcase, I would have easily positioned LOCKE as one of the best movies of the year. Too bad that's hardly the case but at the very least, this movie remains a noteworthy experience to witness Tom Hardy in a different light.

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