Locke - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Locke Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 7, 2015
Despite appearing in many films beforehand, I think it's fair to say that Tom Hardy's breakout role was in Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson in 2009. Many (myself included) were instantly struck by his bravery and his ability to inhabit such an intense role. In that film he threw everything at us and since then he hasn't looked back. What's most encouraging, though, is that he isn't afraid to spread his talents. He's already done Hollywood: The Dark Knight Rises, Warrior and Inception, to name a few, but it's in this small independent project that Hardy delivers some career best work.

Successful construction manager, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a man of principals and a dedicated father and husband. However, on the eve of the biggest deal of his career he receives a phone call which forces him to assess some choices he has made in life and sets forth a series of (e)motions that threaten to undo everything he has been dedicated to.

Locke has a very simple premise. So simple, it would lead you to believe that it's a very dull and uninteresting affair. It basically consists of spending 1hr 25mins stuck in a car with a man who does nothing more than talk to people on his hands-free device while driving from Birmingham to London and talking through his personal problems. However, it's anything but dull. In fact, the very simplicity of writer/director Steven Knight's approach is what makes the film so compelling.

Hardy talks a lot. A lot about his work in concrete; building development and laying foundations but the real development and foundations are built from his emotionally charged character.

Set entirely within the confines of his moving vehicle, the real driving force behind the narrative is the dialogue. It methodically peels back the layers of one man's quest to right a wrong in his life and Hardy's expressive mannerisms completely own the screen. Granted, he's the only person who actually appears onscreen (Olivia Colman et al literally phone in their roles) but that's not to take away from his exceptional and spellbinding performance.

For a film that's constantly on the move, it's actually deeply rooted in character development. Ivan's goals, achievements and morals are teased out with every conversation he's involved in and Hardy's emotion and nuance lends a captivating intensity to the overall mood and atmosphere.

A claustrophobic chamber piece that defies the big spending studios by delivering something personal and intimate without digging too deeply into it's pockets. It's more like a one-man play than a film and a great example of how less can be more.

Mark Walker
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2015
It surely is a one-trick pony that manages to be elevated by the superb performance of Hardy alone.
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2014
I kept thinking that his butt must be killing him after filming this. Great performance, rivals Ryan Reynolds trapped in a box, but not quite Sam Rockwell in Moon territory.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ December 22, 2014
Essentially a one-man show, write/director Steven Knight's film spend every one of its minutes inside a car with its titular star played by Tom Hardy. Over the course of one real-time late-night drive to London, our driver confronts a series of moral crossroads both personal and professional. It takes a while to get going but once the main conflicts are established, it's a pleasure watching Hardy try and orchestrate all of them into complacency in the comfort of his car. I kept imagining how someone would translate this into an intimate stage show. The tension builds nicely as Locke has to come to terms with accepting he cannot fix his mistakes. The biggest drawback is that the film abruptly ends without much in the way of a payoff. The whole time Locke is on a mission, berating his invisible absentee father he envisions in his backseat, determined not to make the same mistakes, but then the movie just limps to a finish. It would have used another 10-15 minutes of resolution to feel more complete. Hardy is strong and keeps your attention, often offering glimpses of the complex emotions he's trying to hide. An intriguing film experiment in minimalism, there are worse ways to spend 85 minutes than inside a car with Tom Hardy. However, there are also better ways.

Nate's Grade: B
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2014
A quietly intense picture detailing an hour and a half in the life of a successful construction manager (Tom Hardy) and the conversations he has with people on the phone in his car on the highway. Hardy is the only character seen in the movie, and just like Robert Redford in "All Is Lost" and Ryan Reynolds in "Buried", he is that special kind of actor who completely owns this picture from beginning to end. The movie hits a few lulls once in a while but Hardy's character is so richly drawn and complex that it is hard not to be fascinated as to what he's all about and where his life is going when it appears it is unraveling right before his eyes. I have said before that, outside of Daniel Day-Lewis, he is the best actor on the planet, and this movie once again cements this belief.
Super Reviewer
½ September 11, 2014
Similar to what Moon did for Sam Rockwell, Locke primarily exists to prove Tom Hardy is fully capable of carrying a feature film on his own. And it's his best performance yet (yes, even better than Bane).
Written and directed by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises), the film follows Ivan on the biggest night of his career. He's about to complete a multi-million dollar deal. His wife and sons are expecting him home to watch the big soccer match. But an unexpected phone call takes him away from all this, and we watch his life crumble as he drives to his new destination.
The film is a character study that suggests Locke's decisions in the film can be directly traced back to his experiences growing up. It explores the life he had, has, and will probably have moving past the end credits. It is 85 minutes, told in real time, and takes place in the interior of Ivan's car. You could say we are....locked....in a single perspective.
I can definitely see Locke failing to connect with a lot of people. But I can also see it being a highly engrossing experience for those willing to engage themselves in the story.
Super Reviewer
May 3, 2014
Decidedly not like Phone Booth... which is a very good thing. Tom Hardy might have just taken the Best British Actor crown from DD Lewis and Colin Firth.
Super Reviewer
½ May 13, 2014
Locke proves that minimalist film-making can still be done well in today's age of overused special effects and underdeveloped story lines that turn into blockbuster hits. Tom Hardy is the only person on screen the entire film and is located in his car on the highway the entire time, so he has to carry the entire film on his shoulders. Not only does he do that, but he proves why he is one of the best working actors today guiding the film through a range of highs and lows that keep you watching even when things are a little slow to get going. The plot is fairly simple, but adds tons of interesting layers to each subplot that Locke gets involved in so that the viewer maintains interest throughout. Spoiling any of the moments wouldn't be fair. Ultimately, if you want to see Tom Hardy act his butt off in a unique film, this one is recommended.
Super Reviewer
½ July 29, 2014
A stunningly original and unique dramatic thriller that's a brilliant character study. An extraordinary and truly riveting movie. It's writing and craftsmanship is possibly Director, Steven Knight's finest masterwork yet. It would work well even if it was a play with a man on a stage reading the painful and devastating words of this beautifully tragic script. It's filled with absorbing suspense and fierce emotion all the way through. It's tremendous filmmaking that's damn near perfect. A powerhouse of a film that hits you hard and hits you home and hammers your heart, for you truly feel for this character. Tom Hardy is explosive, he gives a tour de force performance. It's the performance of his career. A mesmerizing and earth-shattering performance that so many people can relate too, not just to his unfortunate circumstances but just to the stress of his professional life and the toll it takes when in a confined space. This is what superb acting and filmmaking is all about, while basically a one scene deal it still manages feel more open than what is on screen. An impressive and furiously compelling piece of work. It's an eighty-minute drive that I wont soon forget.
Super Reviewer
July 29, 2014
Locke is a masterfully crafted dramatic thriller that gives the viewer another standout performance by actor Tom Hardy. Brilliantly shot, and told with the simplest storyline I've seen in quite some time, and it works very well enough to keep you entertained due to the events that unfold throughout the film that makes the film much more entertaining. Tom Hardy is a fine, talented actor, and he makes the role his own. Aside from his roles in Bronson, The Dark Knight Rises, this is among his most superlative performances yet, and with that being said, I think he will surely be nominated for Academy Award, as he is long overdue. Locke is a fine dramatic thriller, a film that doesn't overdo anything in order to grab your attention, and it's the best way the film creates its tension. Tom Hardy is immaculate in the role, and Locke is a standout feature well worth seeing if you enjoy a simple, yet engaging dramatic thriller. The way that events unfold for the lead character is quite well done as well. If you love the genre, don't pass up on this film, simple to the point with a terrific tour de force performance by Tom Hardy, in the end what more could you ask for? Although not perfect, Locke still at its very heart is a finely executed picture that will certainly appeal to viewers that enjoy this genre. Even with the film's few imperfections, you're easily entranced by on-screen energy that Tom Hardy displays throughout the film, and you end up forgettable the films faults. Locke is a fine piece of filmmaking, and a real surprise to see such a simple idea be so captivating and engaging.
Super Reviewer
½ July 27, 2014
In possibly the most emotional performance of his career, Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a man who is one the way to the birth of his son, but the woman giving birth is not his wife. Taking place entire in a car and driven by phone calls, the pacing of this film is nothing short of perfect. It is a very simple premise that has been made the right amount of complicated to get you engaged the whole way through. Films that are filmed like this and succeed with flying colours really do impress me and this one was no exception. "Locke" is a riveting thriller that will hold your interest until the end. I felt like I was sitting in the car with him as his life continues to fall apart. By the end, I felt the impact by the events of the film and left me wanting to see where else his life would be taken. "Locke" is very well-scripted, Tom Hardy is phenomenal, and the director knew exactly how to capture every moment. This is one of the most impressive films I've seen in 2014.
Super Reviewer
½ July 22, 2014
Here is a very interesting and unique movie that isn't for everyone. Actually, I'd be willing to be most people will turn it off, hate it, or just be like "This movie sucked". But, those people sometimes get caught up in the "norm" with movies, and can't enjoy a simple, yet challenging movie. This movie is a one man show. Tom Hardy plays Locke, a construction manager who leaves works, and is driving to a destination that will change his life forever. The entire movie takes place in the car, and is just Tom Hardy talking on the phone. But the conflicts between his work and personal life is riveting. I don't want to say too much, because it's a movie that is best to just unfold without any prior knowledge. It's not a movie with car crashes, or shootouts. Just a drama about a man whose life is changing. Hardy is memorizing in this, and I'd say not many actors could have pulled this off. I was glued to the screen for the 85 minutes(it's not a long movie at all). Kind of reminded me of a movie 2 years ago called "Magin Cell". Just a real life drama, that is filled with tension and great dramatic performances. The only thing I didn't like about this was the ending. But even if the destination wasn't the best, the ride was fantastic. Great movie, that deserves a look, even though most won't care for it. I can hear my mom saying it now, "The movie sucked, it didn't have any zombies".
Super Reviewer
½ July 7, 2014
A strong character study with a fantastic performance by Tom Hardy, despite the excess of exposition and a director who doesn't seem to trust his own capacity to keep us involved in such minimalist story and tries everything to create a sense of movement with his restless camera.
Super Reviewer
½ May 21, 2014
A construction foreman is called away on personal business on the eve of a huge building project; we watch in real time as he drives to London juggling phone calls from work, home, and his destination. Tom Hardy will be rightfully praised for what's almost a one-man show as a profoundly decent working man facing the devastating consequences of a single bad decision; but, the real, unacknowledged star is Steven Knight's minimalist script, which manages to wring a hell of a lot of tension out of a "you have a call waiting" notification.
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2014
With over a over century of filmmaking finding many films that only have one actor on screen is a rarity. It's also a daunting task for a single actor to basically shoulder the entire film on their own shoulders no matter the experience they have. There's only a handful of actors that tackle going solo for a film like Robert Redford in "All Is Lost", Philip Baker Hall in "Secret Honor", and Ryan Reynolds in "Buried". All these films are carried by one actor and are minimalist efforts. They are all also terrific movies and now Tom Hardy will join the very small list of actors that carried an entire film by themselves.

Locke follows Ivan Locke, a dedicated family man and successful construction manager, making phone calls that sets in motion a series of events that threaten his careful cultivated existence in one drive to the hospital. Usually if you can literally summarize everything that occurs in a film with a single sentence there's usually not a whole lot to dissect. That isn't the case with Locke taking place in real time and primarily consisting of dialogue to tell its story. Characterization and plot development all occurs through conversations on the phone each of which flow naturally. Each of the conversations plays around several explored ideas like being defined by your actions, the impact of fatherhood, escapism within your job, and many other ideas that serves it as a equally layered character study. The more time you spent with Lock the more you begin to doubt his good nature and begin to see a different meaning behind his words and motives. Locke is a very layered character whose words and action in certain situations will paint him in various shades. Being the only visible character in the film he's very defined with his interactions with supporting characters telling us allot of his relationship with them. On paper the plot is basically going from point A to point B without detours of any kind, yet a lone developed character is enough to carry the film.

On a the cinematography side of things the film is visually repetitive. The camera never stays at one angle for very long. It mixes extreme close-ups with medium shots, looks at Locke from his side mirrors, and then from his rearview mirror. Headlights and the streetlights reflect on his windshield, his windows and the shine of his car itself. Occasionally, the camera switches to a first-person view; we see what Locke sees. Repeating the same exterior shots of traffic or Locke car, not-too-functional shots of reflections of traffic lights in windshields, faded car lights, and interior shots just being different variation on Tom Hardy basically driving. While the cinematography is nothing impressive or engaging Tom Hardy is a true tour de force in his performance. Stuck behind the wheel of the car the entire time, there's very little for Hardy to do, which is both the point and what makes his performance so remarkable. Physically he can do nothing but Hardy manages to play a multitude of roles while chatting on the phone. One minute, he's the all-business deal breaker; the next, an attentive father, assuring his son he'll be home in the morning. After his son goes back to the game, and his colleague does his bidding, and playing the role of insubordinate employee. Playing up various aspects of the character personality through by effortlessly changing his mannerism at a moment notice.

Locke is not an interesting movie to look at with repetitive shot compositions, but it's an intriguing experiment that works for Tom Hardy to display some strong acting in a difficult role and challenges Steven Knight as a storyteller. It's a rare film relying primarily on a single actor to be on screen containing the usual great story and a great performance by it lone star even if visually there's not much to latch on to.
Super Reviewer
½ May 3, 2014
MY REVIEW OF LOCKE ( 3 1/2 stars)

Tom Hardy is one of those people who have been bubbling under the surface of superstardom for the past few years, and in LOCKE, he cements his status as a world class actor. The deceptively simple story of one man driving a car from point A to point B while taking a series of tense phone calls is all it takes to etch his performance into your memory.


Hardy is Ivan Locke, a man who personifies grace under pressure. On this particular night, he's abandoning the most important construction job of his life to tend to the birth of a child he's having with a woman he hardly knows. In the middle of this lies his unsuspecting wife and children. As the tension mounts on a man who strives to put the crumbling pieces of his life back together, we watch him slightly unravel during brief "conversations" with his late father. That's about as much story you're going to get from me, and truth be told, there isn't much story to be had here. This is a small, specific film.


I'm a fan of contained thrillers, as they're a true challenge to any filmmaker. BURIED, CUJO, ROPE, and PHONE BOOTH are just a few examples of this difficult genre, and some have been more successful than others. Writer/Director Steven Knight, best known for writing EASTERN PROMISES and DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, is certainly up for the assignment. LOCKE is visually repetitive (exterior car, close-up, insert of dashboard...rinse and repeat), yet the shallow focus lensing and layered reflections by cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos add a warmth to the proceedings.

Let's face it, this is the Tom Hardy show. It's an 85 minute acting monologue masterpiece, if you're into such things. By the end, I admired the performance and the soothing tones in his vocal delivery, but part of me thought this be better suited as a short film. It would be a primer on how to be the best telephone operator the world has ever known. Locke REALLY knows how to juggle calls, how to put out fires, and how to find London in the rain! Locke rocks!

Sure, the human condition is laid bare in the film. The central theme of redemption is truly compelling. Your heart does go out to a man attempting the impossible task of trying to make everybody happy. Hardy transforms himself once again (this is a LONG way from Bane) into a man with a Welsh accent and a contained bearing. Imagine Anthony Hopkins reading a children's book and you'll get the idea. The kindness oozes from this man who has made some bad decisions. It's what keeps you watching. It's what makes you care. LOCKE is certainly not going to draw huge crowds. From the trailer, I thought we were in for a murder mystery. They've carefully disguised it's core essence. This is a psychological portrait of a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I admire the attempt even if I don't think it's essential viewing. Regardless, fans of Tom Hardy (which should be every living person) will find enough to enjoy.
Super Reviewer
November 6, 2014
Locked down in a simple premise that's entrancingly driven home, Tom Hardy's compelling latest pits a troubled family man, his BMW, his phone, and a historic construction job as the most invigoratingly complex drama of the year. Admittedly, it's a tough sell: One principled man drives and talks his way through personal and professional crises for a little under an hour and a half. What transpires, however, is a ridiculously suspenseful one-man show.

In this R-rated drama, a dedicated family man and successful construction manager (Tom Hardy) receives a phone call on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career that sets in motion a series of events that threaten his careful cultivated existence.

There's that cliché that claims you'd watch Such-and-Such actor read the phone book. Interestingly enough, we more or less get that scenario presented here. Hard sell, amazing payoff. Moving through his smart phone Rolodex in a high stakes game of attrition, Tom Hardy develops a character pretty much from a crouch. Writer/director Steven Wright pulls off an amazing hat trick, single handedly making fools out of anybody who adapts a play and makes it look stagey. This risk-taker sets every nail-biting moment of his drama in a car and the intensity never lets up.

Bottom line: Bain Glorious
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ September 9, 2014
Steven Knight has told us about Francis Scott Key's "Amazing Grace", and now he's telling us the tale of John Locke's "Two Treatises of Government", right? Seriously though, first, Tom Hardy is taking on the Dark Knight, and now he's working with Steven Knight, the guy who wrote "Amazing Grace" and "Eastern Promises". Now, those films are reasonably compelling, especially "Eastern Promises", but I sure hope that the movies Knight directs are more exciting than the ones he writes, especially if this film that he's directing and writing is nearly 90 minutes of Hardy simply hanging out in his car, talking on his car phone. For you commercial superficials who just can't wait for "Mad Max: Fury Road", just see this Tom Hardy film about a road and you'll surely get furious, you philistines. I don't know if this is so much an abuse of artistic experimentation, as much as it's Knight working really, really hard to save many after "Hummingbird" bombed, probably because it lost all of its money on Jason Statham. If Knight wants to save money, then maybe he should quit hiring major action stars, although that is by no means to say that Hardy isn't worth having here. Yeah, this film is going to be nearly 90 minutes of some cat driving around, then the lead better be endearing, and sure enough, Hardy carries this film, through all of its shortcomings.

I've done plenty of joking about how tedious a film this minimalist has the potential to be, but through style, sharp storytelling and engaging acting, this drama holds your attention, if not a hint of entertainment value, which makes it all the more frustrating once slow spots do, in fact, kick in, whether they be inspired by dry spells in the atmosphere that are not accompanied by busy and clever dialogue, or simply by the monotony of watching a man whose conversations with his car phone can be shown from only so many angles before it becomes impossible to accept the lack of action. Flaws such as these are very hard to cleanse from a film such as this, but if no other issue derives from the simplicity of this narrative, then it is underdevelopment, because even though there is plenty of exposition in the dialogue to spare, without dynamic plotting or visual evidence to support motivations and background, there's something missing in this intimate character drama, no matter how much material the storytellers cram into this cat's car. Simply through phone chats in a car, this film studies on the titular Ivan Locke lead's dealing with shaky business matters, marital conflicts, facing up to infidelities, confronting complications with the birth of his child of sin, and with other small conflicts within the major ones and himself, thus making for a plot that is not simply complex, but just plain convoluted, probably the last thing that I was expecting this film to be. These convolutions reflect an ambition, not to challenge artistic boundaries, but to supplement dramatic depth as compensation for shortcomings in scale, and I respect the aspirations of Steven Knight, but when the director and writer tries too hard, hints of overstylization and melodramatics accompany the narrative and thematic excesses, all in a desperate attempt to make this drama more than it can be. Ambitious, if not inspired, this film has a lot to commend, but it ultimately has to accommodate a minimalist setting, within a car on the monotonous road from Birmingham, England, to London, where all narrative are dealt with, thus, even in concept, this film has the potential to fall spectacularly flat, and as things stand, through all of the efforts, the minimalism comes to wear you down. Resonance is there, but it's challenged by a setting simplicity that limits potential, especially with the help of all of the pacing issues, expository shortcomings, convolutions and overall ambition. The final product is underwhelming on a general standard, but for what it is, it's far from the disaster that it could have been, which isn't to say that there isn't plenty to respect about the idea behind this film.

Charged by themes on taking responsibility for and facing the consequences of great mistakes, presented through the story of a man facing serious business predicaments, the premature birth of a child of adultery, and conflicts with his family, this drama's story concept may be convoluted and rather histrionic, but it is intriguing, maybe even worthwhile, and one has to at least respect the minimalist setting of this affair as unique and audacious. At the very least, this film's minimalism is justified by highlights in Steven Knight's writing, which does about as good a job as it can with fleshing out a developmentally questionable narrative, and does an even better job of holding your attention through sharp, but grounded dialogue that is almost as polished as the stylistic touches of this film. If nothing else liven this film up, it is its aesthetic value, with former Tindersticks violinist Dickon Hinchliffe delivering on a conventional, but tasteful, modernist ambient score that colors up the moments in which dialogue halts, if not flavors up the intensity of some of the most pressing dialogue bits, yet is not quite as effective as Haris Zambarloukos' beautiful cinematography, whose stylish angles, and flashy coloration and lighting which play upon the subtle palette of a night on the road. The style of the film, while occasionally overplayed, is certainly aesthetically excellent, and how it compliments substance relies on Knight's direction, which utilizes various camera angles to provide some sense of dynamicity in a setting without dynamicity, but keeps consistent in an intimacy that draws you into Ivan Locke's world, which, upon really thickening with dramatic intrigue, resonates, thanks to Knight's inspiration. Now, Knight might be more ambitious than inspired in his efforts, but such ambition charms more than it begets and emphasizes shortcomings in a noble vision, while the effectiveness of Knight's storytelling entertain and compel enough to bring some life to this very intimate drama, with a great deal of help from the acting. Although only one face is seen, this film's cast has a number of respectable talents on board, and each one of them, over the phone, are effective in his or her respective roles, with show-stealers including Ruth Wilson as a wife who feels betrayed when her husband finally comes clean about a terrible mistake, and Andrew Scott and Ben Daniels as frustrated men trying to secure business matters that are quickly becoming disastrous, and yet, it all comes back to leading man Tom Hardy, who is not given enough material to be as revelatory as he could have been in this very intimate drama, but is charmingly convincing when he tries to maintain calmness within himself and within his peers, until breakdowns in emotion and dramatic range that sell the anxiety of a man whose life may be falling a part in under two hours of driving and phoning. There are times in which Hardy is stellar, but there is never a time in which Hardy fails to carry this film, which never stood a chance of truly soaring, due to its subtle consequential shortcomings and substantial natural shortcomings, but is crafted well enough to engage about as much as it can.

When the ride is done, moments of slowness and monotony, in addition to expository shortcomings are hard to overcome in a film like this, through all of the overt ambitions that beget narrative convolutions, and a bit of overstylization and melodramatics, making it harder to ignore the natural shortcomings of this drama which is too minimalist to transcend underwhelmingness, challenged well by intriguing subject matter, a unique storytelling style, solid score work, beautiful cinematography, subtly lively and resonant direction, and across-the-board strong performances in a cast that is headed by Tom Hardy, whose charisma and powerful range help in carrying Steven Knight's "Locke" as an adequately engaging, if perhaps overly intimate study on a man confronting his mistakes.

2.5/5 - Fair
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