The biggest concrete pour in Europe and one man in a BMW X5 driving from Birmingham to London does not sound like the ideal ingredients for an exciting and tension fuelled movie. But you would be wrong. The man is Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), and Ivan is the site manager responsible for supervising a concrete pour that will be the largest of its kind in Europe outside of military contracts. If the pour goes wrong then millions of pounds could be at stake. On the eve of this crucial process Ivan leaves the site in his beemer to join his wife (Ruth Wilson voice) of 15 years and his two sons to watch an important football match on the television. Then he receives a phone call from Bethan (Olivia Colman voice), a 43 year old co-worker who he had sex with seven months ago and has not heard from since, she informs him that she has gone into premature labour and wants him at the birth which is to take place in a London hospital. Ivan Locke has a decision to make, does he go home, watch the football with his family and get back to site in the morning to supervise the concrete or does he turn onto the motorway and head south.
Writer and director Steven Knight (Hummingbird 2013) documents Ivan’s journey south to support a woman he barely knows at the detriment of his family and his career. No other characters appear in the film with the entire dialog taking place over Ivan’s hands free telephone in his BMW. The tension builds when Ivan juggles his phone time between telling his wife that he has been unfaithful and arranging for the mornings work to be carried out by his rather insecure assistant Donal (Andrew Scott voice) who for the very first time is expected to inspect the pumps, check the shuttering and carry out the all important slump test’s with the explicit instructions ‘if its like piss send it back’.
The emotional story is of a man that looses everything he holds dear but gains something that’s as precious as life it self: his self respect culminating with the gift of childbirth. Narratively we concentrate on one person and the human condition where a decent man can make just one mistake that can change everything. We all at one time could have to make life changing decisions which will effect ourselves and the people we love but hopefully not in such a traumatic way as illustrated in Knights movie.
Heavily reliant on the acting of Tom Hardy, who gives one of his best performances to date, to keep our interest, Locke (2013) works really well and the Director of Photography Hans Zambarloukos, who was responsible for the wonderful Venus (2006), captures the feel of driving down the motorway after dark, almost bringing Kraftwerk’s 22 minute track Autobahn to life. The filming took place in real time as the BMW was transported on a flat backed truck down the motorway on the outskirts of London. Ignore the negative critiques and make your own mind up but I’m sure you will agree that this is a very worthwhile attempt at something slightly different in the world of cinema.