As always, no spoilers.
Tom Hardy in a car having conversations on the phone for 85 minutes. That doesn’t sound like the kind of movie anyone would want to watch, and, as it turned out, very few did. Locke grossed $1,375,769 at the domestic box office, which is less than many movies make in the first two or three hours after they’re released.
But when I saw it received a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and noticed that I’d never even heard of the movie, I knew it was worth checking out. One thing that should be noted to anyone considering seeing it is that it’s listed as “Drama, Mystery & Suspense” on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a drama. One can say that it’s a little suspenseful, but not the way most “suspense” movies tend deliver. Go in knowing nobody’s trying to hunt him down, there are no dead bodies in his trunk, and if he breaks the speed limit while driving, we aren’t made aware.
As true dramas go, it’s stellar.
Some may say it’s too gimmicky. After all, being able to hold an audience’s interest for an hour and a half with a man driving a car and talking to people is some feat. In this case, the execution of the gimmick itself is excellent because Hardy is able to deliver. His smooth transitions between private rage and soothing calm when he takes a call is magnified by a flawless Welsh accent. We believe that he’s passionate when he rages and we accept his sincerity when he’s calm.
The film was essentially a play that was performed over and over again with cameras in different places inside and outside the car. Then, they’d piece it all together for the finished product. It’s one of the few films where direction was much less important than good writing, which is why it’s a good thing that writer/director Steven Knight is much better known for his writing than directing.
Hardy’s acting is complimented by a strong mix of voice actors, including some pretty heavy hitters like Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, and Tom Holland, but of the voices on the other end of the line, it was Ruth Wilson who stood out as exceptional.
If you go in thinking a man in a car having phone conversations sounds too boring to watch, then Locke probably isn’t for you. There’s a Marvel movie or another installment of Fast and Furious coming out any moment that better suits your tastes.