Locke Review: A Driven Performance Saves Us From the Gimmicks

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In the opening seconds of the film, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) gets into his car and he doesn’t get out for the remainder of the 90-minute runtime. Sometimes it’s as gimmicky as it sounds, but sometimes it’s really effective.

Locke is a meditation on what we perceive to be right and wrong. The script gives the titular character a strict moral code and makes you wonder what course of action is right. Having gotten a women who isn’t his wife pregnant, Ivan is on his way to London to be there for the birth of his child. Meanwhile, he’s doing his best to save his marriage and career.

Hardy is the only actor to ever appear on screen. We only hear the rest of the characters’ voices through the car’s bluetooth technology. It’s startling how quickly we feel for people we only hear the muffled voices of on the phone. This is Locke’s greatest strength, using sound and sound alone to put together Ivan’s life.

But as great as Hardy is, there is never a hook that makes us feel for Ivan. The movie appears to be relying solely on Hardy’s performance to get us involved in Locke’s life. But with our lead’s motivations behind his mistake never understood, it’s difficult to say he doesn’t deserve all the chewing out he gets over the phone.

At first, it’s puzzling how matter-of-fact and borderline rude Ivan is to those he has wronged. He seems to be going through the motions as his life falls apart, executing his plan without wavering to trying and put the pieces back together. This is where the character arc becomes interesting, as Ivan slowly learns he isn’t going to fix anything.

But we probably go too long without this arc coming to fruition. When it does though, boy is it effective. This is where Hardy really shines, as the tragedy within this man comes at you like a pair of high beams. The gimmicks feel less like gimmicks and more like well hit story beats.

Locke isn’t the rousing success it wants to be, but it hits hard at numerous times. As Hardy’s first role since his iconic turn as the Batman villain Bane, this film is a reminder that he could be one of the next big names in Hollywood. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

One Response to Locke Review: A Driven Performance Saves Us From the Gimmicks

  1. David says:

    I was so impressed by this film and the terrific acting of Tom Hardy! I totally did feel for Ivan and was moved by this drama! Go and see this!

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