Ivan Locke is in concrete. Up to his beady Welsh eyeballs in the stuff, in over his head. He’s a building site manager who, as Steven Knight’s film opens, is abandoning a multi-million pound commercial pour scheduled for 5:25am the next morning because he has another, more pressing commitment, a commitment to Do the Right Thing. This commitment will, ultimately, destroy everything he’s worked for, but it’ll show his dead-loss dad, show him that some men shoulder their obligations, men like Ivan Locke.
As Steven Knight’s film opens, Ivan is about to drive through the night, from Birmingham to London, where his commitment awaits. Over the course of the film he’ll speak with many who depend on him, among them a subordinate, Donal (Andrew Scott, Sherlock‘s Moriarty), whom he promises to handhold throughout the morrow’s pouring process; his poor, sad, soon-to-be-destroyed wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson) and their two young sons, safe at home with soccer and sausages; his boss, Gareth (Ben Daniels), who, like us, can’t believe what’s happening; and, most urgently, Bethan, played by the redoubtable Olivia Colman, scared and alone and laboring at St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, W2.
As Steven Knight’s film opens, Tom Hardy climbs into the driver’s seat both literally and figuratively, hand-held device at the ready. Turns out he’ll need it. The lights from the motorway blur and shimmer and dance cross the windscreen, moving in and out of focus. Hardy is magnificent: contained, emotional, resolute. But Knight is magnificent too: constructing, managing, moving things forward, towards greatness. For what a drive this is, as we watch, rapt.
Some will call it a one-trick pony, like Hardy playing both Kray twins in the gangland drama Legend, or piano man Elton John in the forthcoming biopic Rocketman. But when the pony is wrangled this well, one tends not to notice the artifice. My palms are sweating just writing about Steven Knight’s film. Steven Knight’s Locke.
(c) 2016 David N. Butterworth