Movie review: Locke (2013)

Locke is a one-man movie almost entirely shot in a moving car. A number of disembodied voices are heard through Locke’s cell phone. It is an intriguing premise for a movie, and Locke pulls it off.

At first questions about what is happening kept me engaged: Who is this guy? Where is he going? Why is he going to wherever he is going? Then as the story unfolded, I was drawn further in. Who would he call next? When would we learn the next tidbit in the story?

The movie is set in the UK. Locke is a construction overseer of an incredibly huge building project. He has suddenly abandoned the project to drive…somewhere…one evening. The conversations he has through his drive involve three areas of his life: work, family, and the woman who is having his child.

Through it all, he is trying to do the right thing: make sure that the child comes into the world with its parents there and make sure that the concrete for this massive building project is poured correctly to prevent a future catastrophic building collapse.

We painfully listen to his conversations. He patiently tries to calm, reassure, and advise the fragile woman who is in labor with his child. He awkwardly confesses to his wife that he is driving to the side of the woman who has gone into premature labor with his child. He listens to his sons’ excited banter about a football game on the TV—a game that he originally planned to be home to watch with his family. He walks a concrete farmer through the steps of managing the concrete pour in the morning. He deals with the blowback and firing from his boss.

In between all of these conversations, he finds the time to have heated monologues with his father, the father than abandoned him in his youth and is long dead. He has lived his life in direct opposition to his father. Unlike his father, he will not abandon the child that he should not have had. He will do the right thing even though it is painfully hard and lost him everything else in his life.

That hour and a half drive was not an easy one. He started out with one life (employed at a good job with an excellent reputation as one of the best managers, happily married with a family) and ended up with another one (fired and kicked out of his house). He was going to see a woman he didn’t know or love to do the right thing by not abandoning her in her hour of need and not abandoning the child his mistake produced.

Tom Hardy’s performance in Locke is exceptional and is reminiscent of outstanding one-person plays where the play—or in this case, movie—succeeds or fails based on the talent of the single actor. Locke is an interesting movie that deals with the past and how one’s reactions to it influences how one faces present challenges.

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