Locke wonders: will the concrete be poured in time?

Every time I hear about a critically-acclaimed one person film, I always want to see it and I’m always inevitably disappointed. I just don’t have the patience (or it perhaps the attention span) to enjoy being stuck in a static location with another character for an hour and a half. It’s an interesting challenge, but it’s not cinematic. These ideas are better suited for radio plays (which I don’t think are produced very often anymore), especially considering the majority of these films involve the lead characters talking to someone else on a telephone. Alas, I always forget my own opinion and go to see these movies anyway, and it always reaffirms that these films don’t work (at least for me). Locke didn’t break that pattern.

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) receives a phone call and decides to take a pivotal car ride. By the end of the night, he will have lost his job, his family, and his reputation.

That’s a perfect synopsis. It’s interesting, there’s a mystery (how is Locke going to lose his job/family/reputation?), and we want to know where Locke is headed. Most of the reviews that I read prior to going to see the film suggested that Locke’s final destination isn’t revealed until late in the film, which colours the interpretation of everything that had passed beforehand. It’s a lie. Within the first twenty minutes we know where Locke is heading, why is heading there, why by heading there he will lose his family, and why he will lose his job because of this choice. That leaves an hour and ten minutes of movie to fill, and writer/director Steven Knight decides to fill it with conversations about concrete. Literally.

An honest synopsis of Locke would go as such:

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a construction foreman responsible for overseeing the largest concrete pour ever attempted in England to build the foundation of a large building. The night before the pour, Locke receives a phone call and makes a choice. By making that choice, he won’t be able to oversee the concrete pour the next day. How will the concrete get poured in time? Find out as Locke scrambles to call municipal officials to arrange for permits, asks a co-worker to cover for him (and explains what grade of concrete is required for the pour), and fields angry calls from his bosses! It’s a thrill a minute!

Maybe all the conversation about concrete is a metaphor for something. Perhaps like, because Locke isn’t able to oversee the pour, the building will be sitting on a BROKEN FOUNDATION – just like Locke’s life. I don’t know – but all the talk about concrete grades, maintenance, and construction work isn’t worth a lousy metaphor.

For a film set entirely in a car, Locke loses speed about a third of the way through and never recovers. Once the purpose of his trip and his destination are realized, there isn’t much left to say, and the actual journey to get there is about what you’d expect if you were riding shotgun with a construction foreman looking to skip work the next day.

Grade: D+




4 Responses to Locke

  1. Julia Turnbull says:

    Brilliant insight. I definitely won’t go and see this film!!

  2. Donovan says:

    Grad A for me sir: great character-led and storey-led film and Tom Hardy playing Ivan is f#cking excellent!

  3. Nostra says:

    Will give this a shot, simply because I like Hardy as an actor.

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