The trouble with Locke is…


Melissa Oey reviews the new flick from Steven Knight:

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is an Everyman whose carefully constructed picket fence existence becomes threatened by a singular and supposedly uncharacteristic incident in his past. The film depicts Locke’s attempt at mitigating the consequences of his actions through a series of handsfree phone calls made and received in the confines of his cushy family sports car. In short, Locke is essentially 90 minutes in a car with Tom Hardy’s face sporting a non-specific Welsh accent.

The real (read: not objectifying) upside to this is that given Hardy’s reputation for playing fearsome men fearlessly, no matter how painfully controlled Ivan Locke’s character is, a darkness rumbles just beneath the surface of his otherwise seamless facade. The only shame is that there were not many avenues for this underbelly of Locke to be explored. This was, however, the stated objective of the film – to confront viewers with the ordinary tragedy of an Everyman and not, as I had hoped, entrench them in a tantalising if not nail biting (and ideally psychological) thriller. Given that the events are tracked in real time, I was pleasantly surprised that the pace was able to pick itself up after the first fifteen minutes in which the impetus for Locke’s literal and metaphorical journey is slowly revealed.

What should be noted is that despite Hardy’s grit, Ivan Locke, as a character, is dangerously regular and this is a quality shared by all of the secondary characters in the film. The exception is Locke’s second-in-command, Donal, played by the fireball that is Andrew Scott. Best known for his invigorating portrayal of the psychopathic criminal genius, Moriarty, in BBC’s Sherlock, Scott does not disappoint and the consistency in his performance and character is just that of being excellent.

Although the quality supporting cast gave emotionally charged, only Donal came off as anything resembling an actual human being. Locke’s wife, boss, children and former assistant were disappointingly regular in their depictions and at times offensive in their adherence to tired stereotypes. The worst of course is that the desire to keep with the theme of ‘ordinary tragedy’ negated the fact that real people and their ‘ordinary tragedies’ are never so simple. Any attempt Knight made to create a layered reality was either obvious or interrupted then abandoned completely.

References made to Waiting for Godot emphasise the importance of engaging with that which is otherwise conventionally banal – a car ride. The trouble with Locke is that the central character, as written, is not a complex one, nor is he one who is particularly self aware. Do watch for the experience, affirmation of Tom Hardy’s acting chops and a dose of highly commendable, Andrew Scott. Do not expect pit stains, teeth grinding or pleas for an encore.

melissa oey


Review by Melissa Oey