Locke review: Small visual theater but huge thematic scope. Of morality and damnation.

There are some movies where you just have to watch it yourself. Seriously. In this review, I’ll try to give as little away as possible while still covering some thematic issues in the film. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? I’m not sure if it’s even possible, so continue at your own risk if you haven’t seen it yet. Not everyone will like this one but hey, if you’re up for the eccentric, it’s a real gem. One man. One car. Tons of dialogue. Don’t let this bore you, its a defined work of the human condition.

Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke in a film wholly centered upon his long car journey from his construction site in Birmingham to London. He rushes to London to see his newborn daughter with one-night stand Bethan. During this trip, he misses the football game back home with his family, and misses the supervisation of a concrete pour for a new building. The whole movie centers around his conversations with his wife, Bethan, his sons,  colleague Donal and his imaginary father. Locke is a true bravura of a film. Who would’ve thought that a one man show inside the visual theater of a car (for 84 minutes) would be captivating from start to finish. Steven Knight’s bold experiment paid off, mostly because Tom Hardy is a beast of an actor. His motions are limited by the driver’s seat so he relies almost entirely on subtle body gestures and genuine expressions. Besides being able to portray a menacing villain with a terrorizing mask in Bane (The Dark Knight Rises), Tom Hardy bares the fallible human in a truly gripping and realistic performance.


In essence, Locke struggles with doing what is ‘right’ knowing that he will still inevitably cause harm to someone else. The grey areas of decision, choice start to really blur for Ivan Locke. As he drives to see his soon-to-be born daughter, problems start cropping up from different parts of his life from family, work and one-night stand Bethan. The calm interior of the car is subverted; Locke is now literally trapped inside, and trapped by his problems. In my reading of the film, I felt that Locke is perhaps the most realistic portrayal of man, he is our flawed nature personified. The addition of his conversations with his failed father is a brilliant example of our very own subconscious desire to prove one’s worth; To differentiate ourselves from the failure of others. Indeed, there are things to be admired about Locke, which makes it all the more torturous because the life he’s worked so hard to sustain is crumbling before him. 

I have a lot of praise for this film. It hits many right notes for me with a fantastic acting performance and a deep understanding of the human psyche. It’s smart, non-cheesy, and subtly powerful. Oh and the attention to bokeh light effects and city silhouttes really give the kind of melancholic mood when needed. They flicker and flash past him, mirroring the fast unfortunate turn of events unfold before Locke. Directing was also great but Tom Hardy literally carried the film. I have to give props to the writer of the dialogue because that’s actually the only window to the psyche of Locke, and to the other unseen characters as well. Boy was the dialogue honest and riveting!! You only get to see Tom Hardy, but there’s a deep presence of the unseen characters, their struggles and their emotions are just as deeply felt.


At the end of the film, you’ll get to decide if Ivan Locke has successfully wriggled his way out of the hellhole of problems. It’s not an ambiguous end, but it does give enough room for nuanced interpretations. I’ll like to end this review/teaser with an interesting metaphor in the movie which is the car ride. Now I’ve said the central tension point in Locke is the process of choosing the right decision, informed by a consistent driving set of morals. I know, cheeky double entendre (double meaning) right? But hear me out. I personally think that Locke’s process of moral decision is consistent and to be admired actually. This is symbolized by the continuous journey in one direction. Maybe he does find redemption at the end. Or is he still damned at the end? Watch the film and tell me what you think!

locke reflection

Rating: 8.8/10    Don’t think many have seen it, but my fellow followers don’t miss it. 🙂 Whether you want something different or fancy an intriguing exploration of themes, it speaks of our human nature and life more realistically than most you’ll see.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. one of my favourite films of 2014 with one of my favourite performances. should be seen by everyone.


    1. jwforeva says:

      Ditto. One of my top ten movies this year, sad that it’s just flown under the radar.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t seen it. Will have to though. Thank you for sharing.


    1. jwforeva says:

      No problem 🙂


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