You would be forgiven for thinking Locke, starring Tom Hardy"”known for kicking ass in films like Bronson, Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises"”was another action-packed thriller. It's certainly advertised as one. But it's actually a minimalist rumination on human frailty.
Hardy plays the title character, the only one you'll see onscreen. He's a successful construction foreman who leaves his worksite in Birmingham, England, and then sees his life fall apart in real time. The rest of the cast will only be heard as Locke calls them multiple times on his 85-minute drive to London.
It takes quite a while for Locke to get going and for his life-altering decision to be revealed. Until then, it's a lot of construction jargon. There's almost more discussion about concrete pours and road closure permits than about The Thing That Happened.
But Hardy keeps it compelling throughout, especially when he has conversations with his dead father, which shows just how fragile his psyche really is. The whole film is about Locke trying to stay in control when everything has devolved into chaos. He's juggling a lot of things and when he's on the phone, he remains perfectly calm. But when he hangs up, he's starting to crack.
There's an intimacy to the film, considering we're staying in the car the entire time. I wonder if the film would have worked better as a play, considering Hardy's commands the screen the entire time. Regardless, that's not what keeps it from being an incredible movie. It's that even with its brief running time, Locke gets repetitive. Maybe a short or one-act play would have been the most ideal way for the film to show its power.
Still, you're not going to see anything else like Locke this year. And with the onslaught of action blockbusters on the way, it's a good palate cleanser. As long as you know what you're in for, Locke comes recommended.