New To Blu: Locke

Tom Hardy stars in Locke, new to blu ray this week.

"So. Sick. Of. Traffic."
For roughly 80 real-time minutes you will see a man juggle a cascade of problems that stemmed from a single crack in his life. Phone call after phone call he attempts a calculated and cool-headed form of damage control all while driving to one very important destination. Ivan Locke messed up pretty bad in his personal life and now, as one of the most highly respected men in his field, he must make certain that his family remains together, and the biggest job he's ever headed won't come crashing down without his presence.

Locke is in love with buildings. He's even in love with concrete. He is an artist with an unwavering passion for his work. It's more than just a job to him and he will do everything in his power to ensure that in spite of possibly damaging his career that this job gets completed without him there.

It became more apparent as the film continued that this is an answer to what happens when an ideal Objectivist character must own up to making the same mistake many of us do. Previously, Objectivism in art has been mostly an ideal rendering of the philosophy. Here, Locke is an imperfect character never apologizing, yet owning up to and taking full responsibility for a mistake that is now rippling through every facet of his life.

Countless times throughout the film, Tom Hardy's Locke seemed like he was taking words straight from Howard Roark's mouth of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. The guy erects buildings for a living and speaks adoringly of the displacement of air his construction will create, and the very concrete it will stand upon. This and many other lines make Hardy's character undoubtedly a near mirror image of Roark. Locke is ever forthright, cutting to the heart of the matter and circumventing the irrationality of those affected by his mistake. He is understanding of their anger, never defensive, and goes out of his way to ensure the fallout of his honest error does not uproot the lives of both his loved ones on one side and his colleagues on the other. It is clear he intends to absorb as much of the damage alone as possible.

I don't want to bog this review down with its numerous nods and parallels to Objectivism. So, if you wish to discuss it in detail further, I invite you to the comments.

Tom Hardy is as solid as Ivan Locke. Despite the entirety of the film focusing solely on this one man, in fact, never seeing another human face for its entire run-time, Hardy puts you right in the car with him. Though Locke is a man that is a master at cutting through the hardest of stresses—an iron-willed dude for sure—Hardy agonizingly teeters on the brink of completely losing it. It's a hypnotic ride as we wonder if or when Locke will lose control. The narrative is penned with entirely natural and believable dialogue, allowing Hardy the room to lift the scenes above the pages with an infectious performance.

Writer/director Steven Knight takes purpose in displaying police cars passing Locke on numerous occasions,
"I will find and kill the person
that stole my Bane mask!"
or tight road construction when Locke's path gets reduced to a single lane. I believe these shots and many similar are meant to contrast the containment of Locke's situation. Life's own tribulations are going on around him as he remains steadfast, never giving these potentially meddlesome moments a chance to invade his judgment. All that matters in the next 80 minutes is what's happening inside this car. The film is shot generally matter-of-fact with little cinematic flair. Most shots are plausible considering the constrained scope of the film, frequently showing the viewer only what you would be able to witness had you been in the car with Locke, or perhaps driving themselves.

There's not much to really comment on otherwise. It's a short, and very sweet film lead by an impassioned performance from Tom Hardy all taking place in one man's vehicle. I could see many viewers getting bored with this rather quickly. In fact, it took even myself some time to find good traction with the plot, but soon I was drawn well into it. For some reason I went in anticipating a thriller, expecting a darker conflict to eventually arise. I slowly realized this is a simple drama about honor, dignity, and perseverance in face of losing everything. Locke is just an average hard-working guy that made one mistake that could drastically alter his life for better or worse. It's highly relatable, and grounded. It's directed with honesty, written with empathy, and constructed tightly. I can't recommend this film to everyone. I wouldn't even call it a brilliant film, though my praise might give that impression. I was, however, glued to the drama as it unfolded layer by thin layer, but without Tom Hardy balancing the excellent script on his performance, I have a feeling the film could have slid into anonymity.

-J.G. Barnes