Director : Steven Knight
Starring : Tom Hardy. UK. 1h 24m
This stunning British drama, cleverly written and directed by Steven Knight and in turn is expertly executed by Tom Hardy. On the surface, what looks like a jerk driving his car while trying to get someone to finish a job he’s just walked out on (involving a lucrative building plot) , cruises into a powerful drama of a man trying to face up to his fuck ups with minimal fallout and he despite all the pain and hardships, he just wants to get the damn concrete poured.
Sometimes in TV series will have an episode where it’s all limited to one room, it’s usually done to keep costs down, but bottle episodes are exercise in writing and stretching characters out a little giving them some room for growth, in a way Locke is a massive bottle episode in a saga we didn’t know we wanted to be a part of.
Knight manages to condense a ton of drama into one all night journey, played out in real time we have little to do but sit back and absorb. Almost like a radio play, the devil is in the details of numerous phone calls that Ivan Locke (Hardy) is forced to make on the road to a hospital in London, from his workplace in Birmingham, he’s on a promise or two…
For most the story is of a man with little scruples, trying his best to make the most of a dire situation that he’s more than responsible for, just grown up enough to make a major fuck up and almost brave enough to try and face the music, he leaves a multimillion pound job to make weak amends and destroys his family in the process.
For such a dry blind script and lack of rolling landscapes and complex drama, there’s a vivid story all built up in a handful of phone calls and a handful of clips of life back home, a family getting snacks waiting for dad to return to watch the football…
Hardy is the perfect choice for this role, he often finds it easy to play the bad boy, we’ve had him dominate movies from the beginning of his acting career and he even managed to out act himself in Legend (2015), but this is something deeper and more bastardly charming about this determined and broken character. It sounds like a gimmick but Hardy is so compelling in this layered tale that is never dull. In the world of Ivan Locke there’s not right or wrong, just layers of righter and wronger, he’s very vocal that he’s fucked up he’s just walked out of his job but he wants to get it finished, he’s basically shutting down his happy family life to be there for a one night stand giving birth to his child, but he’s vocal that he doesn’t love her, but he’ll be there for. Like a one man steamroller of fuck up’s he’ll be there trying to minimize his own damage.
Locke is as experimental as it is emotional, those difficult conversations are all slowly played out, those talks which you’d want to have in person are strangely just as powerful in this bold display of art. A blend of Knights skill as a writer and let’s face it, Hardy’s adorable mug helps the tougher moments. It’s strange how captivating Locke is, but by the end of the film you’ll be wanting that damned concrete to be poured as much as you want Locke to hold his newborn. Poetry in motion.
Related: Wrecked (2010), The Guilty (2018)
List: One man one movie, Bottle Movies
Spotlight: Tom Hardy