"I want to know that I'm not driving in one direction."
Director Steven Knight has left me in sort of a dilemma with his sophomore film, Locke. On the one hand the movie lacked the suspense that the trailers promised so I can't give it a higher rating. However, for minimalist cinema this might just be one of the best and most unique examples so it deserves a much higher rating. It ranks up there with the likes of Buried which was also basically a one man show starring Ryan Reynolds confined in a small space. The only difference was that in that film there was much more at stake. Locke isn't a film for everyone because some audiences might get bored with the entire premise considering it centers on one man (played by Tom Hardy) driving across the freeway in the course of one night while he is talking to different people on a hands-free mobile device. The main reason why I wanted to watch Locke despite not being attracted by the premise was the fact that it starred Tom Hardy and I basically will watch anything this guy stars in. Hardy didn't disappoint and he is the main reason why this film even worked in the first place. His performance felt authentic and natural making the audience forget for a moment that we were watching a super star as we followed a simple construction manager driving his BMW while trying to solve his issues involving his family and business. Hardy really delivers and impresses despite not having much to work with considering that this film would have never worked if it weren't for his powerful performance. Despite not having such an intriguing premise the pacing of the story worked just fine considering it clocked out at about 80 minutes. If Knight would have stretched this film out a little more than the pacing could've become an issue, but fortunately he didn't and I ended up enjoying it mostly thanks to Hardy's solid performance.
Considering the film was minimalist I would also like to keep my review rather short and concise. The film gets points for originality and for Hardy's great performance. By only using dialogue through phone calls we really got to know this character and see how he tried to balance the different events that were unfolding before him in the course of one night. As a successful construction manager who tries to keep everything in order he sort of applies the same philosophy to his life and tries to do the right thing despite having made a mistake in the past. He is a fixer and that is what he tries to do as he deals with the specific events during each one of his conversations. Despite being a one man show, we hear other characters through the mobile phone and I was surprised at how each one really had their own unique personality despite never really seeing them. So I also have to give a lot of credit to Knight for his writing as well. The film succeeds in these aspects, but I still felt that the lack of suspense hurt this movie. In the end, Locke is a film about a man who is paying for his one mistake and seeing how everything is unraveling before him in the course of one night. That is all there is to it.