It can be difficult to have a film that takes place in only one location from beginning to end. Not only do you need a smart script and clever direction, but the performances must also be up to snuff, especially if you’re in that location with only one character for the duration of the film. Other than a few shots at the beginning and end of the film, Locke’s entire story unfolds inside of a car. Luckily, there’s some significant talent on display, both in front of and behind the camera and they keep the events of the story interesting, without even having to change locations. It may have a slow beginning, but the entire film rests squarely on Tom Hardy’s shoulders and he’s able to deliver a fantastic performance, while also crafting an interesting and sympathetic character.

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a construction foreman, who is several hours away from supervising one of the largest concrete pours in Europe’s history. But on the eve of this pour, he receives a call from a woman that he had a one night stand with and learns that she is going into labor. Because she has no one else to be with her, he decides to drive several hours away to be there for the birth. This forces him to abandon his responsibilities as a construction foreman and coach his assistant (Andrew Scott) over the phone on how to prepare for the pour. He is also forced to abandon his wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson), who calls to figure out why her husband is not coming home. Locke deals with all of these situations through phone calls on his way to the hospital. He knows that when he finally exits the vehicle, his life will never be the same.

Locke is a unique moviegoing experience, not only because the film takes place in a single location from beginning to end, but also because the situations that Locke must deal with are surprisingly normal. These aren’t the typical end of the world, life and death situations that are present in a lot of movies today. Instead, Locke is forced to deal with the complications of a concrete pour, while also recovering from the confession of his infidelity to his wife. Attempting to supervise a concrete pour over the phone may not sound exciting and when the movie first begins, it isn’t. But as we begin to learn more about who Locke is and why he’s choosing to make these decisions, every aspect of his life becomes more and more fascinating. This is really a film that gets better and better as the film progresses and it’s all because of the slow development of Locke’s character.

It also doesn’t hurt that Locke is a pretty interesting guy. He’s a totally normal man, with a family that loves him and a job that he’s really good at. But the perfect life that he’s spent years building up crumbles in less than two hours, all because of a single mistake that he made seven months ago. It’s also worth noting that Locke was abandoned by his own father, so he certainly isn’t going to abandon his own child, whether this decision hurts him or not. It takes much more than a good performance to carry a film like this, but Tom Hardy absolutely delivers a great one. While his performance is impressive because he’s the only character to appear on screen, it’s also much deeper than his ability to pull off this gimmicky sounding premise. He portrays Locke as a calm and collected individual, one who stays committed to his decisions even when they blow up in his face. The rare moments where he does explode in anger feel completely genuine and a moment where he’s on the verge of tears towards the end of the film is very moving. It’s also worth noting that the strong Welsh accent that Hardy adopts for the role never falters.

Even though Locke is spending nearly an hour and a half alone in his car, his life continues to move around him. As we watch him drive through the night, the city lights that are constantly reflected on his windows imply just how quickly things are changing. They occasionally give the images a dream-like quality, almost as if the events that are occurring in Locke’s life are too painful to fully comprehend. Writer and director Steven Knight shot the film in just six days, with Hardy filming his driving scenes in uninterrupted takes. It’s a strange way to shoot a movie, which is fitting for a film that never succumbs to convention. Locke is a simple story, told in a unique and daring fashion.

Locke receives 3.5/4

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