Why would Ivan Locke be driving around at this hour of the night?
Indie Films are a new favorite of mine. From them we can receive some well thought out stories and top notch acting that seem to be widely absent from the normal Hollywood popcorn flicks. The director has more freedom as to what he can and cannot do when it comes to his/her artistic liberty. The question is, is it at all possible to make an 85 minute film about one man driving a car while talking to numerous (unseen) characters on the phone entertaining? To my amazement, director Steven Knight is able to make that a great big “yes!” But is it even worth it? That is another question entirely.
While this film did surprise when it came to its entertainment and captivating film making, that does not mean it is all smooth sailings. In fact, the film deals with a heavy amount of mature thematic elements that involve even the plot line. First off, I will try my best to not give the ending away, but main plots and twists cannot be avoided. You might be asking, “But why is the man in the car the entire film”? Good question, it is because he is driving to right some severe wrongs. Let me explain. Meet Ivan Locke, a hardworking family man on the brink of helping the concrete factory he works with unveil their greatest project in approximately one day. The day also is a day in which he will spend time with his family rooting for their favorite Soccer (or Football) team in a big game. However, all this must now play second fiddle to the rest of his night. That is because a dirty little secret has just made itself known. This unfortunate truth is that he will once again be a father on this night, but this time with a former coworker, not his wife. Some messed up stuff, right? Within this short amount of time, we see the unraveling of a good and respectable life as Locke now faces the inevitable outcome of becoming divorced and fired all within one night.
You might ask, is there any decency displayed in this tragic tale of mistakes becoming disclosed? The one big and powerful area that is seen in this film thematically is that Locke tries his best not to make excuses. For the most part, he reemphasizes the point that he made a very tragic mistake and takes full responsibility for the outcome. The next beneficial area to observe is that Locke is trying his very best to right his wrongs. As a child, Ivan makes it known that he never had a father, his father left at a young age. It is for this reason that he is driving across country in order to give this new born life the father he never had. All the while trying to fulfill his responsibilities to his wife and family, as well as trying to help his fellow employee. Now Locke is human just like us, and in the process his obligations do seem skewed from time to time. But for the most part, he is doing the very best thing he knows how to do.
It is hard to watch this man as he frantically tries to patch up anywhere that he can in his long lost, beautiful life he once had. Yet, this domino effect of his mistakes does not seem to give way in any aspect. In order to bring this flawed but sympathetic character to life, all the while being the only visible character in the film, you need someone with some major acting chops. Let me start by saying, I have come to truly love the performances Tom Hardy has given. His calibrations with Christopher Nolan and his work in Warrior are beyond fantastic. Yet, I don’t think I have quite seen him reach the masterful achievement as he does in Locke. He truly is one of the best actors of today, and deserves so much more recognition than he receives. How a man is able to give every range of emotion including anger, sorrow, dignity, shame and even a bit of menace is beyond me. He alone is the reason that this film is as watchable as it is by giving the best performance of 2014, in my opinion! Britain’s own Andrew Scott (Sherlock) and Ruth Wilson (Saving Mr. Banks) give some top notch vocal performances as well, with Scott particularly giving a few moments of much needed laughs.
This film, while not for everyone, is exquisitely made from start to finish. Yet, it is a heartbreaking character study about one man trying to somehow make right the great wrongs he has done. It is a reminder that none of us, not even those who seem to have everything together in life, are without sin (Romans 3:23). Yet, it also shows us that no matter how hard we have to make things right, we must also endure the consequences of our foolish sins, just as David did in 2 Kings 12. It should also be noted that this film won’t be for many also because of the harsh language. My clearplay worked overtime with the heavy amount of F bombs dropped here.
So it comes down to if you, the watcher, are up for the challenge. This is a cinematic experience for sure, observing one man endure his many demons that surfaced all in one night. This is no happy fairy tale, that is also for sure. But it is a great reminder for us to want to never, and I mean never, want to endure equal demons in our lives. So in the end, this film is more than just about a man driving in the late hours of the night.