93%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (6 Votes)

Steven Knight amazes in this brilliant piece of minimalist cinema.


Steven Knight’s Locke is an absolute gem of cinematic brilliance that takes you on the most thrilling hour and a half car ride you will ever be a part of. Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke, delivering a performance so compelling that it is nothing short of phenomenal. The genius that drives this film is the sense of realness experienced, as all of the situations and decisions Ivan endures make us question our own morality. Locke is truly a film for the age we live in, and revolutionary in that the entire plot is driven simply by a series of hands-free phone calls.

Knight’s writing must be applauded as he executes this script near perfection. A common mistake writers make in films is attempting to create a character the audience is supposed to be rooting for and then making them a character we begin to loathe and question. This makes us as an audience unable to understand their motives and decisions. Knight excels in creating the character of Ivan Locke because, although many audience members may not agree with Ivan Locke’s decisions, they will most certainly understand them. Ivan Locke’s character is very special simply because he is a strong-willed and determined individual who had an uncharacteristic lapse in judgment that came back to haunt him. It is his willingness to accept the consequences and his determination to make things “right” that really wins us over as an audience.

The film begins with Ivan finishing up his work on a construction site, changing his shoes, and jumping into his gorgeous BMW. It is obvious he has done quite well for himself as a construction foreman, and we later find out he is exceptional at his job. He also has a wife and two young boys, which leads us to believe he essentially has the perfect life. However, seven months ago when he was away on a construction job, he made a huge mistake and had a one-night stand with an older co-worker named Bethan. We come to find out this is very uncharacteristic for the extremely logical Ivan. To make matters worse, Bethan is seven months pregnant and going into early labor. This event sets the film into motion as Ivan makes the decision on the eve of the biggest concrete pour in England’s history, which he must supervise, to drive all the way from Birmingham to a London hospital in order to be with the lonely Bethan during the birth of his child. The rest of the film shows how Ivan deals with responsibilities to his family, his job, his mistake, and most of all himself.

Tom Hardy and the gorgeous BMW X5 E70 are the only things the audience sees during the entire 84-minute duration of Locke. Hardy is absolutely dazzling as the strong willed and responsible Ivan Locke. There really can’t be enough said about how fantastic his performance is in this minimalist film. He does more than enough without trying to do too much. The conversations he has with his wife, his oldest son, his sometimes-incompetent co-worker and with Bethan feel so genuine and real that as an audience member, it feels like you’re not only in this car ride with Ivan, but also in this situation.


Another thing done well by Knight is how Ivan ultimately decides on what he believes is the right thing to do. Ivan has no love for Bethan; he truly loves his wife. This would lead many men in the same situation to just wash their hands of it. Ivan feels a sense of responsibility to the child, which, as the film progresses, we see that his motivation to do so is a result of disdain for his own childhood. The dialogue throughout the movie is one of the strongest aspects of the film, and creates a very special viewing experience.

The perfect life Ivan has made takes a complete turn throughout the film, due to his sense of moral obligation, yet he blames no one. Reviewing this film without giving too much away is almost as difficult as the decisions Ivan Locke is forced to make. Each phone call is as important as the last, with each playing a major role in the plot of the film. The amazing part is how difficult a film like this is to make, being purely driven on dialogue with the audience only seeing a single character in a single setting for the entire film. For that reason alone, Steven Knight must be recognized for his hand in not only pulling this off, but flourishing in doing so.

While many may not be familiar with Locke, it is without a doubt a must see for all film lovers out there. Tom Hardy alone delivers a tour-de-force that will make viewers wonder why we haven’t seen more of this guy before. Steven Knight’s writing and directing abilities truly shine. He proves that big budget films packed full of cinematography and CGI are not necessary to make an exceptional film. Sync your Bluetooth, buckle your seat belt, and prepare to be locked in for the full 84 minutes in this brilliant piece of minimalist cinema.


About The Author