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If anybody tells me that there is a film with 90 minutes of Tom Hardy, that film could be about a man studying algebra and I would still watch it. As it is, “Locke” is quite a bit more interesting, and plays that brilliant actor to full potential, while confining him in the generous but still limited space of his BMW on his way to London. What he is doing is making phone calls. One after the other, to his colleagues, his boss, his wife and sons, and some other people that play a part in the unraveling of a personal and professional life. Locke has made a mistake some time ago, and he is now about to pay the price for it. He has no way of fixing things, it’s not that kind of film, but he can make decisions about the available options. How to do the right thing prevails over how to live with the consequences.

What is most gripping is that Locke is a professional, he plans and executes his catharsis the same way he usually plans the concrete filling of skyscraper foundations he is responsible for. We learn some details about his job that make us understand that this is somebody who is used to handling extremely complex procedures, who is used to dealing with high stakes, and who can only be one of the best in his job because he understands the right sequence of action and communication. The concrete filling business background may sound a bit odd at the beginning, but the more we are engaged in his life and in his professional duties, the better we understand what kind of a man he is. While watching this, the idea springs to mind that the script stems from an evening in a bar where Steven Knight met some stranger who enlightened him about the terrible complexities and perils of that crucial moment of filling a concrete foundation, with the fate of a large building being in the hands of mere mortals, and the pressure this puts on them every step of the way. No idea whether this is true, but this motif plays all through the film, that it takes a special kind of person to handle that pressure, and we are witness to lesser men trying their skills on that task, and heading towards collapse and disaster.

If it was a chamber, this would be a great chamber play. As it is a car, it is something of a road movie, with the brooding and dark atmosphere that the frequent night commuter will recognise. It enhances the solitude, it accelerates the thoughts shooting through the driver’s mind, and it heightens the atmosphere in a thriller setting without a crime, but maybe with a hero.

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