I suppose Locke works better than it should, given its extremely limiting conceit. A solo-performance movie, it stars Tom Hardy as a concrete foreman who must juggle a series of crises – professional and personal – while on a 90-minute road trip. Thank goodness for Bluetooth, or he’d have an awfully sore neck.
The main reason this remains interesting is Hardy. Known partly for characters teetering on the edge of violence (Bronson, Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises), he adopts a disarmingly gentle tone here. There isn’t a problem that Locke can’t rationally figure out, whether it’s a missing fax or an argument with his wife, and he approaches each like a serene surgeon, with logic as his scalpel. Yet as these problems multiply and complicate, the cracks begin to show.
Cracks … concrete foreman. Get it? One of the faults of Locke is its penchant for on-the-nose details, including the GPS map in his car that shows him driving into unmarked territory. “If you make one mistake the whole world will come crashing down,” Locke says of pouring concrete, but clearly referring to his own life. For it is soon revealed that he has made one mistake, the reverberations of which are all coalescing on this single night.
Writer-director Steven Knight is fairly obvious on the visual side, as well, relying on a variation of slick but familiar shots of bleary headlights and brake lights, which are elegantly superimposed over Locke’s increasingly anguished face. Thankfully that face is Hardy’s, otherwise there wouldn’t be much to watch.