Twitter Plot Summary: Construction worker Ivan Locke heads down the motorway the night before his biggest job to fix a wrong he has committed.
Five Point Summary:
1. Left or right… let’s go right.
2. So many phone calls to make.
3. Stop saying she’s distressed!
4. Unravelling… and recovering.
5. Outskirts of The Big Smoke.
To some, the thought of 85 minutes alone in a car with Tom Hardy would sound like torture. To others, it would perhaps sound like the best idea ever. The reality is that, in this case at least, you’re just a passive viewer of the journey down the M6 with Hardy’s Ivan Locke. Locke is Welsh (not that this really makes much difference), and is intent on resolving a wrong he has committed, in the only way he knows how – by driving from his construction job north of Birmingham and travelling down to London for reasons that will become apparent to you as you watch the film.
This is very much a story that would be ruined if I were to give away any of the plot beyond this, but it would be entirely fair to say that this is not a big explosive thriller, but is in fact about a normal man dealing with a very feasible situation. Unfortunately for him, it’s a situation that’s arisen on the eve of his biggest construction job to date, leaving him with several balls to juggle in the course of his journey.
The thing you have to remember going in is that it is literally 85-90 minutes of Tom Hardy driving. There are no cutaways to other actors or other locations – much like Hitchcock’s Rear Window we are in the car with Locke almost from start to finish. Luckily for us, and despite his Welsh accent, he remains compelling throughout. The remainder of the cast appear via telephone calls, disembodied voices appearing through the miracle of Bluetooth and modern technology. The likes of Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott (he of BBC’s Sherlock fame) all step up to the plate and make the drama all the more compelling. This displayed out so well, in fact, that a potentially boring conversation about construction – specifically, concrete – is still thoroughly entertaining despite the somewhat dry subject matter.
This is all down to the script – because of the structure of the calls and their impact on Locke’s journey they always serve a purpose and push things on despite the necessarily static aspect of the presentation. In this respect director Steven Knight has somehow managed to make it visually interesting, pulling out of the bag a number of different camera angles to keep things fresh. This is a small relief given that his last film was the less than stellar Redemption (or Hummingbird, if you’re in the UK) starring Jason Statham.
The only slightly concerning moments are those with Locke talking to himself in the vehicle. Whilst tonally appropriate, they do still jar slightly when compared to the rest of the production and run the risk of taking you out of the story. In that respect, however, it does allow you to see into his inner thoughts and explains his reasons for doing what he’s doing. Thankfully we’re not spoon fed absolutely everything and are allowed to piece together events slowly over the course of the narrative. It’s a well structured, low budget drama and would perhaps only benefit from seeing a bit more of Locke’s world beyond the confines of his vehicle. On the whole though, this is a very small complaint.