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Title: Locke

Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :1star:

HTS Overall Score:68

It’s hard to describe a film like “Locke”, in some ways it tries to be “Drive”, and in others it takes on a life of its own. The entirety of the film takes place inside of a car on the way to a London hospital and that is its crowning jewel and its biggest detractor at the same time. The idea of having a story take place in real time over and hour and a half time period is unique and has many possibilities, but at the end of the day it comes down to too much repetition and not enough room to breathe. As the film started out I was curious what was going to happen, then after the first 30 minutes I realized that this was more of a “slice of life” story than anything, and as the last act came together I realized it really WAS a slice of life story, but not even a true slice, more of a sliver with the crust gone as all of the happenings over the night come to an end with the viewer sitting there going “is that it”?

“Locke” is the tale of one Ivan Locke’s (Tom Hardy) most stressful evenings. Although he must be under a great deal of stress Ivan appears to have ice water going through is veins, for he has just left his job site as a concrete laying manager for one of the biggest buildings in English history. He’s on his way down the freeway and has to tell call his boss and let him know that he won’t be onsite in the morrow for THE pouring of the foundation, e.g. the biggest and most complicated part of the build. As his boss freaks out Ivan calmly juggles his boss, his subordinate who he’s just laden with the burden and a pair of women interrupting his instructions. One of the women is calling him regarding her being in the hospital giving birth, and the other is his wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson). It appears that the child of a women he hooked up with nearly a year ago is giving birth to his child, which is drawing him away from his work and his family and now he has to break the news to everyone in the chain that he won’t be there.

As expected, Katrina flips out and breaks down, his boss is ready to scream, and as you guessed it Ivan is most definitely fired, and Bethan (Olivia Colman), his mistress, is sobbing and begging him to get there in time. With all this stress I would be hiding under a mattress clicking my heels together and reciting “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like”, but Ivan is cool as ice juggling all the oranges of his mad fruit cocktail with seemingly deft ease. The problem is that he’s falling apart underneath, desperately trying to control all aspects of this, reciting to himself that it will be ok. As the hour and a half progresses his easy instructions turn out to be not so easy, everything that can go wrong DOES go wrong and it becomes abundantly clear that Ivan does NOT have everything under control, or at least not as much as he would like. Still he tenaciously sticks to his plan and smoothes out every wrinkle and bump in the road with incredible ease.


Now the problem with the story is that all I’ve described is all that there is to the film. Ivan smoothes over every bump, or at least tries too and then it just abruptly ends. There is next to no resolution to the film besides that he’s lost everything he holds dear, or at least almost everything and now that we are finished with this slice of life, we don’t get to see what happens next. I guess the best thing would be to say “good idea, poor execution”, as the idea of the film started out great and then just never gained a whole lot of traction. What we are privy to is rather interesting, especially watching Tom Hardy be the sole visual person on screen and seeing him perform under pressure. I can sure say this, I would want him on my team if I was having a stressful project at work! When all is said and done though, the viewer is left hanging and left with realization that what has just happened is all that there, there is no real resolution to the story and you’re left wanting.

Now I liked the performance of Tom as it’s a role that I’ve never seen him in before, the soft spoken man of steel is very interesting and has you wanting to see just WHAT HAPPENS to him as the story unfolds, but again, that is its main problem, that nothing comes to a head and nothing really happens besides him taking care of everything. The visual aids do all they can to try and keep it interesting, shifting angles around the car, focusing on different parts of Tom’s face, and even employing some very nifty camera techniques such as overlaying the traffic on top of Tom’s face so that it looks like it is imprinted on him, but all of that can’t overcome the sense of hollowness that comes at the end of the movie when you realize that there is no real culmination. What happens, just……..happens. "Locke" had a lot of things going for it, but ends up just making me feel in the middle over whether I liked it or not.


Rated R for language throughout.

Video :4stars:
“Locke” is presented in a very nice 2.40:1 AVC transfer that is just literally BATHED in darkness. The entirety of the film is spent in a car late at night where all you can see is Ivan’s face, the darkness shrouding his face and the reflections of the road. The film seems to be inherently soft, as that slight hint of softness doesn’t fade or get worse as the movie progresses, and I must say the darkness certainly gives a somber ambience to the viewing experience. Black levels were the very first thing I looked at and, for the most part, they are very well done. There are some instances where I felt the reflections caused some greying of the shadow detail, but those moments are fleeting. The colors tend to be rather earthy and mixed with the golden yellow shine of headlights. There’s a few reds and blues from passing cars, but the majority of the film is a dark brown tone with those afore mentioned golden hues. Fine detail is very solid as you can see every fiber of Ivan’s coat, his beard and even the dust flecks on his car phone’s LED display. Director Steven Knight also used a rather unique filming technique of having the road reflections overlay Ivan’s face in many scenes, giving it an added texture and feel that is all its own. I didn’t notice any banding or digital compression, but then again, blacks are one of the easiest colors to compress. Still a rather nice transfer, for a film that tends to take place all in one spot.

Audio :4stars:
The audio is very blatantly front heavy, as there is pretty much nothing going on besides the sounds of the road and the dialogue coming through the center channel. That dialogue is clean and easily distinguishable and I have no complaints about the front soundstage. The hustle and roars of the English freeways are well done and perfectly accurate. While the surrounds aren’t used in an incredible manner, the audio engineers did a fine job of making every sound count. The sound of the freeway, and the ambiance of the score come through very accurately, almost so perfect you can hear the car behind you to your left, or the whoosh as an oncoming vehicle displaces air from front to back soundstage. LFE is nice and calm, but adds some depth and power to the sounds of the traffic surrounding Ivan, but still nothing to shake the rafters or collapse the building around you. It’s a very good track for what it’s trying to be, but the limitations of a track where you hear mostly dialogue tends to have its drawbacks.

Extras :1star:

• Ordinary Unraveling: The Making of "Locke"
• Directors Commentary

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Locke” is an interesting idea, and a film that has a lot of things going for it, but in the end suffers a bit too much from having a cool idea, but the actual execution tends to be a bit dry and restrained due to the limited nature of the idea. Similar to how a sketch can be GREAT on Saturday Night Live, but turning it into a feature length film really takes some stretching. I liked the majority of the film, but the repetition started to make the film drag as time went on, so that you were begging for something, ANYTHING out of the ordinary to shake things up a bit. Still it’s a valiant effort and definitely an intriguing watch. I’d definitely give it a rental if you’re interested in slow paced dramas.

Additional Information:

Starring: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson
Directed by: Steven Knight
Written by: Steven Knight
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: R
Runtime: 84
Blu-ray Release Date: August 12th, 2014

Buy Locke Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Rental

More about Mike

50 Posts
Spot on review. I kept waiting for something else to happen in the movie other than him being in his car but nothing ever came. I too was somewhat disappointed in the abrupt ending. Would have been nice to see happens next for Mr. Locke. Definitely nothing more than a rental if you decide to watch it.
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