'Locke' Movie Review

Updated on March 14, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

Ivan Locke is gonna make a 90-minute trip in his car. During this little odyssey, Locke will be involved in thirty phone calls with eight different people. And by the time he reaches his destination, his life will be completely changed in every way.

Premise of Locke

The greatness of this premise is that this dramatic change doesn't involve big action sequences, multiple characters or a complicated plot but instead one of the most successful narrative minimalist experiments in recent years.

Ivan Locke made a mistake. He impregnated a depressed lonely woman named Bethan, for whom he only feels sadness and a strong sense of responsibility. And this night she is suddenly preparing to give birth to his child, way earlier than expected. Emotionally fragile, Bethan needs him.

But Ivan Locke already has a solid and stable life. He has a wife named Katrina and two teenage boys. He has a solid job as a construction foreman, and the most important project of his career will start in a few hours. So in 90 minutes, while taking a small "detour" of his life, Locke will try to put everything in order.

John Locke and Experience

Everything will happen inside the car. We’ll only see Locke dealing with disillusioned, desperate and angry voices. We'll never see their faces. It is not needed. It's his experience, feelings, and decisions.

This whole story is a tribute to modern empiricist philosopher John Locke. If the shared surname wasn't obvious enough, "Ivan" in most Slavic languages translates to “John”.

A Good Empiricist

"I want to talk about a practical next step" Ivan coldly repeats to his soon-to-be ex-wife Katrina while doing damage control. Our modern John Locke has a huge crisis on their hands. But as a good empiricist, Ivan knows that there are "very few issues that can't be resolved without careful and fair consideration of the evidence obtained through the senses". That's why he strongly remembers his loser and quasi-absent father. That's why he does everything in his power to make sure the massive concrete pour goes smoothly.

He needs to fulfill his role as the responsible for the foundation of this massive building. He won't have a job anymore, but he will look with satisfaction the building that he helped build.

The Paradox of New Ways of Communication

Locke is a fantastic story about the paradox of the new ways of communication: Ivan tries to save his beloved life remotely, while at the same time facing in person the unwanted one. It's a cinematic reaffirmation of the evolution of communications through technology.

And Locke does this without entering the digital realm of instant messaging apps and social networks. Makes us wonder if in 15 years from now, 2030-Locke would change his life using emoticons and temporary snapchats without being judged as distant, coward or indifferent. Another great movie, released in the same year, related to contemporary and future communication was Spike Jonze's Her.

Direction and Cinematography

Writer/director Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Eastern Promises) alongside cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos (Thor, Eye in the Sky) make wonders with their self-imposed limitations. The shots and framings decisions are consistent and, miraculously, don't feel monotonous.

What's Your Rating For Locke?

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Tom Hardy's Performance as Locke

But the greatest merit goes to Tom Hardy. His performance doesn't stand out for its grandeur, broad range or an amazing physical metamorphosis, but for its powerful simplicity and the automatic ability to suck the viewer into the scene. Which is also one of the main reasons I like him as an actor in many of the recent productions he has starred in. Hardy doesn't stand out the way a Brad Pitt does which makes it more easy to dive into the story.

Movie Details

Title: Locke

Release Year: 2013

Director(s): Steven Knight

Actors: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, a.o.

4 stars for Locke

© 2019 Sam Shepards


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    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      15 months ago from Europe

      Thank you for your comment Eric. I like Hardy's performance here and although minimalist the movie had my attention the whole time.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I don't read movie reviews much but this is a very well done review that caught my eye.


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