Nerdlocker Movie Review: Locke


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The premise: A man in his car on the way to a specific location; along the way he makes many phone calls alluding to his destination. That’s it. The entire run time is spent in this car as this man’s life falls apart over the phone. If I had never seen movies like Buried, this would have sounded horrible, but as with films like Buried, one location movies can actually be very engaging and intense. While this isn’t really either in the end the movie was a well-acted character study that held my attention well enough that I didn’t regret the last 90 minutes of my life. This movie is without a doubt not for everyone; this is merely for the true cinema lovers and not the occasional movie goer. I can say confidently the main reason this works at all is Tom Hardy, who puts in a tremendous performance as Ivan Locke, a man whose life is falling away one phone call at a time.

This is a slow deterioration of a man’s life that has no choice and no power to overcome it. In a matter of two hours he becomes a shell of his former self. Tom Hardy portrays this brilliantly and with an unexpected calmness that most wouldn’t be able to muster in such a dire situation. It is his composure that really stands out; he knows things are changing for the worse and despite everything screaming at him to lose his demeanor he keeps a level head and navigates through treacherous waters. There is a real cause and effect theme here as with everything that goes right, something else goes terribly wrong almost as if to balance him out.


Ivan Locke is a successful construction manager and dedicated family man who receives a call the night before one of the biggest challenges of his career and the caller has news that threatens everything he has worked so very hard for. Forced to make a life altering decision he begins a long drive to London where a one night stand has turned into something far more impactful. Along his drive he makes and receives many phone calls ranging from angry bosses to a betrayed spouse who want answers for his actions. He takes the blame, never copping out and tries to maintain some semblance of civility despite his predicament. In such a short period of time, his life starts to unravel and Ivan does everything he can to try and keep it together, but in a car on a highway isn’t exactly the ideal place to do this. He sees it happening and there is nothing he can do but let it happen and hope for the best. As time passes, it looks less and less likely that a positive outcome will be reached.


Technically there are several people in this film, but from the first minute to the last, only Tom Hardy’s face is ever seen on screen. Everyone that he communicates with over the phone must convey, and they do, a sense of urgency and pain all without ever showing their face. Hardy must then help transfer this to the audience and so a kind of dance begins with a voice and him. Much like a book, you cannot see the people on the other side of these calls and so the imagination comes into play. You imagine a crying wife with such hurt and brokenness as she finds out the truth about her husband. You imagine a damaged home as the children will inevitably learn what their father has done. It’s heartbreaking to think about but with this it simply gives you the facts and lets you think about it. It never tries to shine this character in a positive light, he did something unforgivable and he must deal with the consequences. Along with him on his drive the audience sees a man that isn’t by any means perfect. The question is, can or should he be forgiven? We all make mistakes but some are irreversible and forever damaging.

The end comes and no therapeutic band aid can be found to assuage your feelings of resentment toward this character. It is what it is and I think that is the point; life isn’t pretty and there isn’t always a clear cut conclusion to things. A crash and burn is sometimes the only way to end the insanity. I enjoyed this but for me it was a onetime watch. Hardy did a damn fine job with what he was given and overall this was a decent film. I can’t say this enough; this is NOT for everyone. The scenes in the trailer of him in the car, this is the movie from start to finish. If you are okay with this then maybe give it a shot; enjoyable but a bit bland.

Rated R For: language throughout
Run Time: 85 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman (Voice), Ruth Wilson (Voice), Andrew Scott (Voice)
Directed By: Steven Knight

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2.5/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 2
OVERALL: 3 Nerdskulls

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard