The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions
Written by Matt Giles
Edited by Erin Accomando
Shot over five days and five nights, Steven Knight's "Locke" is the story of one man's mistake and his endless desire to redeem himself, all while speaking on the phone as he drives from Birmingham to London. Yes, the film takes place entirely inside the title character's BMW and it is a mesmerizing experience, both in Knight's sheer inventiveness as a filmmaker and Tom Hardy's brilliant performance as Ivan Locke.
At first you may ask yourself how a film that takes place in a car could hold your attention for its eighty-five minute running time, but that worry fades the moment Ivan makes his first phone call. He's a construction foreman who leaves the most important job of his career because of a mistake he made in his recent past. (I won't spoil what that mistake is, especially since I went into this movie completely blind and was even more wowed than I otherwise might have been.) Ivan has a list of people he needs to talk to, as well as several personal goals to achieve as he makes the drive to London.
What's fascinating is the personal journey this character takes in such a short amount of time. Ivan goes from a man trying to control an uncontrollable situation to someone who accepts the fact that what he's done simply isn't fixable. It happens naturally, out of the many conversations he has on the phone, and also in his discussions with his never seen nor heard deceased father. He's trying to prove that one mistake isn't enough to condemn someone for the rest of their life and that he controls his own fate, not the other way around.
But Ivan is driving toward inevitability, and the closer he gets, the more unhinged and agitated he becomes. It's an honest and heartbreaking realization, and one that Hardy plays beautifully. Ivan's a man worn down by his actions, comforting to others but a mess on the inside, scruffy and more than a little rough around the edges, but he's built a life for himself. He's proud of the work he's done and just wants to get home to his wife, Katrina (Ruth Wilson) and two sons, Sean (Bill Milner) and Eddie (Tom Holland).
We only hear the voices on these phone calls, but these actors do great work and convey all the emotions they need to in their reactions to what Ivan is saying. Wilson is particularly good at bringing Ivan into reality, and Donal (Andrew Scott), Ivan's number two who must take over the job in his absence, adds some comedic moments to an otherwise dark story. You forget that you're only seeing one actor on screen and you become entranced. It's not your average car ride but you're more than happy to have made the journey.