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‘Locke’ It Down: Every Decision Shapes Your Future

by on October 29, 2014

SPOILERS AHEAD (This one’s really hard to write about without talking about the plot.)

I’m not totally sure how to feel about “Locke”. It’s definitely an intriguing undertaking, watching someone’s entire life fall apart in the span of two hours (85 minutes in running time). But is it worth your time?

Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke in ‘Locke’ (2013).

“Locke” tells the story of Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), when he decides to drive to London in order to take care of some unforeseen circumstances, to fix something that was his “fault.” On the way, he winds up leaving not only his family and job behind, but his entire way of life.

Ivan, though, thinks he can fix it all. He is convinced that if he just solves this one problem, all of the others will sort themselves out.

Prior to the movie (nine months or so prior, I’m assuming), Ivan got a co-worker pregnant. She decided to keep the child. And prior to the biggest concrete shipment in European history, she is giving birth. Ivan is the manager of the plant organizing the shipment, but he has decided he has to be by this woman’s side.* Employment, familial and personal crises ensue. But through it all, Ivan’s destination (and location [he is in his car the entire movie]) never wavers.

*Good news: His obligation stems from some serious daddy issues.

Interestingly, and perhaps importantly, you learn where he is going in the first 15-25 minutes of the movie. Many movies would hold this revelation from you as long as possible. But, refreshingly, they tell you what’s going on early and deal with the consequences.

The problem I have is that nothing of consequence really happens after the movie reveals where it’s headed. While I’m glad they revealed it early because of the amount of frustration it would have caused to listen to Ivan circle his way around the issue for more than an hour, I felt like the back half of the movie dragged. Not only that, it felt a bit anti-climactic. I don’t mind ambiguous endings, but the ending felt far too hopeful for me in reflection of the movie’s overarching tone and feel.

Two other things specifically were a bit aggravating to me overall.

Firstly, and perhaps obligatorily, the endless scrolling through Locke’s contacts, letting the phone ring once or twice (or many times!) every time someone calls, listening to the dreadful dial tone over and over, and witnessing an entire movie’s worth of unrealistically short conversations* gets very annoying.

*Particularly for the importance of such conversations.

But the beat that bothered me the most was definitely Locke’s internal monologue with his deceased, deadbeat father. It explicitly adds in some unnecessary expository character shading that would have felt realized enough just through Locke’s phone conversations with his family. His wife, in particular, makes enough references to his father issues that I felt cheated as a viewer by the amount of backstory being shoved into his invisible backseat conversations.

There is enough interesting stuff here that makes “Locke” worth watching, as the relationship between Locke and his children creates an opportunity for some good dialogue about soccer’s importance to their family’s cohesiveness and happiness. His wife emphasizes an interesting contrast between “once” and “never”. Tom Hardy is amazing.

Did I mention Tom Hardy is fantastic in this movie? He really does keep things interesting even when on paper, they probably aren’t. He embodies the role in a very fulfilling, earned way, highlighting all the intricacies and complexities of Ivan Locke in a powerful, subtle way. Without him, this movie is probably a train wreck. But he helps to make this character feel like one of the most well-realized you’ll see this year.

In closing, I want to delve into Locke’s personal motivations and philosophies a bit. Everything Ivan does is seemingly to spite his father, because he wants to do things the right way. He acts the way he believes a man should act. But what you realize before too long is that he has always been, perhaps unavoidably so, like his father. More importantly, perhaps, you realize that he can’t make everyone happy, something he spends the whole movie trying to do. He tries to appease everyone he is close to but winds up disappointing all of them.

You’re always going to leave someone wanting something more. Perhaps Ivan Locke chose wrong, but he chose something and now he has to live with it. His actions and decisions have resulted in a scenario where he is left with just two people, a scenario where he has helped bring a new life into the world.

I keep thinking of Robert Frost’s famous poem when contemplating this movie. I took the [road] less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. Maybe the choices we make in light of our mistakes are the most important ones. As the camera panned out on the final shot, I thought about how many people there are in the world and how this is the story of just one of them. Maybe the moral of the story is that you can’t try to please everyone, because there are just too many damn people to please.

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From → Movie Reviews

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