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Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) walks off a building site, gets into his car and starts driving. And that’s pretty much it for this film: the following eighty-something minutes are just him behind the wheel juggling phone call after phone call as his life pretty much falls apart. For one thing, his family aren’t exactly happy that he’s not coming home; for another, his bosses are even less impressed that he’s driving off on the eve of one of the biggest concrete pours in European building history – a pour he’s meant to be supervising. The reason why he’s driving away from all this isn’t all that surprising; what is more interesting is the decision he’s made to put one set of responsibilities ahead of another.
He’s not a man running away from things, and while the film occasionally oversteps in underlining this – there are a couple of moments where Locke digs into his backstory and motivations that are a little too on-the-nose, but thankfully the film doesn’t push them too far – having him be a man in trouble not because of events he can’t control, but because this is the path he’s chosen to try and control them, makes this more interesting than the usual run of films set in a limited location.
Hardy is the other big plus here: while his slightly plummy tones make for ideal listening (he’s got a very “easy listening” voice going on here), they’re also perfectly suited to the character – a man trying to better himself every way he can. As a thriller it’s good but not great, though the script shows real inventiveness in the way it keeps piling troubles into Locke’s lap. It’s as a character study that this becomes really memorable; sometimes doing the right thing just makes a lot of people angry.