Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Locke

3.5/4

Starring: Tom Hardy, and the voices of Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Tom Holland, Bill Milner

Rated R for Language Throughout

I watched this film to see if it would end up on my Top 10 list for the year, only to realize that it came out last year.  So much for that idea...

Not that I didn't want to see it.  I'm a big fan of Tom Hardy, and I heard the film was great.  Surprising, considering that it's just Hardy in his car talking to people for 90 minutes.  But the key to the movie's success lies not in the premise, but in the execution.

"Locke" isn't a thriller, at least not in the usual sense.  But because I want to keep the film's revelations a secret, I will tread lightly.

Ivan Locke (Hardy) gets into his car for a long car ride.  He has a number of important calls to make, and by the look on his face, he's not excited to make any of them.  But they all result from one decision he made a long time ago, and what he decides to do about it will cost him everything.

Tom Hardy is one of Britain's most versatile young actors.  Forget the tween stars like Robert Pattinson.  You want talent and good looks?  You go with someone like Tom Hardy.  Although he is mainly known for his intense performances in movies like "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Inception," he is more than capable of handling lighter material such as "This Means War," which made my Top Ten list two years ago (although apparently Hardy did not enjoy making it).  This is Hardy as we've never seen him.  He's playing an average guy whose life crumbles around him.  Hardy isn't as volcanic and angry, but he's no less honest.

Hardy is surrounded by an able supporting cast, but due to the nature of the production, they're all off screen.  This movie is all Hardy, and he is more than capable of carrying a film on his shoulders.

"Locke" was written and directed by Steven Knight, who also made the surprisingly effective "Redemption," starring Jason Statham.  Both are thoughtful, pensive films about good people who do bad things and try to make amends.  For both Joey (Statham's character) and Ivan, it won't be easy (if it's even possible at all), but that doesn't stop them from trying.

Interestingly, I thought of Hardy's personal life when watching this movie.  Hardy battled an addiction to alcohol and cocaine, eventually getting sober in 2003.  I don't know if that influenced his decision to take the role or how he played it, but it would be easy to believe either explanation.  For an addict, honesty is key (as was demonstrated with tragic consequences in "Smashed," starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and when you screw up, you have to own up to it.  That's what Ivan is doing, and knowing this little factoid about the actor adds a little subtext to the film and his performance.

Despite the film taking place almost entirely in Ivan's car, this isn't "My Dinner with Andre" (although I checked the clock a few times).  Knight keeps things moving, and Hardy is good enough that I wanted to know what happened to Ivan before and after the film's story.  Ivan's one-sided conversations with his father don't make a lot of sense, although it's easy to understand their general meaning.  It's also unclear what he learns at the end.  But these are pretty small quibbles for such an innovative and riveting film.

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