Film Review: Locke


Construction site foreman Ivan Locke is on his way home from work when he makes a decision to go somewhere else instead, beginning a long journey that will alter his life and the lives of several others forever.

The entirety of Locke takes place in one location with a single character on screen the whole time. This isn’t a particularly revolutionary idea (see 2010’s Buried, for example), but it’s one that, if done well, can prove incredibly effective. However, if handled poorly it can ultimately feel gimmicky and cheap. Fortunately, Locke is very much the former.

We begin with Tom Hardy’s Ivan Locke in the car as he presumably heads home after a day at work. However, he suddenly changes his mind and heads off somewhere else. Where? Well that’s part of the mystery. On the way he talks to various people on the phone as he tries to fix some particular problems in his life. Who’s he talking to? What are his problems? Again, all part of the mystery.

See, Locke is best approached knowing as little as possible. A huge part of the experience is being kept largely in the dark about exactly what’s going on and the eagerness to see how it unravels. Details are kept scarce, teased out as the minutes tick but bring up just as many questions as answers. This all makes the film incredibly tense; more so than you’d expect. All this, combined with the frenetic cinematography and score ensure that you’re always on the edge of your seat.

locke 2

When it comes to our central character, Ivan is a man to which many people will be able to relate. He has some major problems in his life, but ones that he seems determined to sort out and is someone who believes in doing the right thing, no matter the personal ramifications. We see the effects that even the smallest decisions can have, not just on Ivan but on those all around him, and all this is handled superbly by both director Steven Knight and Tom Hardy.

When a film has a single lead (Locke features a few secondary performances from people at the other end of a telephone) then its imperative you have a central performance to carry the film, and Hardy does so with aplomb. His slightly iffy Welsh accent aside, Hardy is masterful as Ivan; nearly always methodical and purposeful in his delivery, yet giving us glimpses of something slightly sinister and disturbing just under the surface. He makes it almost impossible to decide whether Ivan is a man we should like and trust and as such keeps us on edge the whole time.

Locke isn’t a film that everyone’s going to get along with. Despite it clocking in at under 90 minutes, some may find it a little too slow and devoid of action, especially if they’re expecting a more traditional thriller, which the film has often been billed as. The ending will also likely infuriate some, although if you understand what the film is trying to do then you’ll buy into it.

Whilst Locke could have turned into nothing more than a gimmick, it’s in fact a very accomplished piece of cinema. It’s not flashy or complicated, but the fact that’s kept simple is what works for it. As tense as any thriller and with a lead performance as impressive as most others you’ll see this year, Locke may be basic in premise but anything but in its execution.


  • Superb central performance from Tom Hardy
  • Gripping and tense
  • Effective cinematography and score


  • Hardy’s dodgy Welsh accent
  • Some may find it unfulfilling

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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37 thoughts on “Film Review: Locke

  1. Did you not like Hardy’s accent in this? I loved it lol. Regardless, it’s an excellent film! Terrific post!

  2. Tom says:

    Great, great review man, we are pretty dead-even on this. I gave it the full marks, but I think this is mostly because I have yet to invent the half-slice rating!! 😛

    Locke was great. I thought its conservation of materials and cast members really made this out to be a beautiful snapshot of real life. It was microcosmic in its delivery of daily and life-long struggles. One of my favorites of the year thus far for me

    • Get that half a slice sorted, it’s a life saver! Ha!

      Definitely one of my favourites too I reckon. It really did feel like a little insight into one man’s life and it made me wonder if there were loads of other people driving down the same motorway all having their own individual problems.

  3. Superb review. Can’t wait to see this one!

  4. Thanks for not spoiling anything Chris. I still need to see this! Great review

  5. Yep, I couldn’t agree with you more except the Welsh accent. I loved it. Nice review, Chris 🙂

  6. CMrok93 says:

    It’s all about Hardy here and I’m very glad for that. He was great and totally watchable, the whole damn time. Good review.

  7. Popcorn Nights says:

    Nice work mate. I need to see this one; I’ll check it on DVD when it’s released.

  8. elina says:

    Great review, Chris! You got me all tingly and excited now, I want to see what Hardy comes up with. 😉

  9. keith7198 says:

    Fine review. A lot of people are saying Hardy absolutely owns it here. Love the guy and I’m always interested in whatever he does.

  10. Fan of this one too, simple and effective! And Tom Hardy is such an engaging presence. Great review mate.


  11. Abbi says:

    I really loved this. Creating such a tense atmosphere with such a sparse set up was really impressive.

  12. I have to admit, I’m growing curious about this film. The accent wouldn’t bother me, either — I sadly can’t detect whether a Welsh accent is genuine or not.

  13. Can’t wait to see this, especially after your superb post Chris. Good for Hardy for moving in a different direction.

  14. thycriticman says:

    Looks good dude! I personally have not got the chance to see it as it isn’t playing everywhere in Canada…but I have heard nothing but good things. Tom Hardy is a damn good actor so I don’t mind that he is the main guy and practically the only one in this film. I loved Warrior and his other films….

    Crazy how different he looked as Bane eh….

    • Hardy is really developing himself as a truly versatile actor, isn’t he? He’s great here too, definitely worth seeing it for him. When you compare this, Warrior, Batman, Bronson, etc, he’s done some great stuff.

  15. Jim Turnbull says:

    Great review! Nowhere remotely local was showing this one, so gonna have to catch the DVD when it comes out, but I’m a stickler for accents, so hopefully that won’t ruin it! Sounds great though. Can’t wait to see it!

  16. ruth says:

    Hi Chris! Glad to see you’re still blogging man. I agree this is not a perfect film, but still a superb effort from Knight and Hardy is phenomenal in his one-man-show performance. It’s slow in parts but I didn’t mind the lack of action as the conversation managed to be quite gripping!

    • Hey Ruth! Yeah still blogging and doing stuff when I can, I hate that it’s not more often though! I was shocked by how tense this was considering virtually nothing happens! The lack of action works fine though as it focuses more closely on Hardy’s character.

      Oh and hope you had a great holiday!

  17. Mark Walker says:

    Fine work, Chris. I’m really looking forward to this one. I’ve heard nothing but greatness.

  18. Zoë says:

    Great review. This is something I would like to look into!

  19. chris2508 says:

    Brilliant review Chris. Agree with you that Hardy was simply superb, the single location also works well and it’s just an engrossing film.

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