Locke [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (2nd September 2014).
The Film

Over the last couple of years Tom Hardy has exploded onto the scene with ferocity rarely seen, even though he's been acting for (according to IMDb) thirteen years, it was 2008's "Bronson" that brought the attention of his talents to Hollywood, he would follow that stellar tour-de-force performance with roles in "Inception" (2010), "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (2011), "Warrior" (2011), "This Means War" (2012), "Lawless" (2012) and as the terrifying Bane in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy finale "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012). In a short few years he managed to make an impact most struggling and up-and-coming actors can only wish for. He proved a solid supporting actor that it was only a matter of time he made the leap to headliner, "Locke" is the first major starring role, but his true test will come next year when George Miller unleashes "Mad Max: Fury Road" with Hardy taking the role Max Rockatansky previously made famous by Mel Gibson. Meanwhile "Locke" was released last year to critical acclaim.

"Locke" tells the story of construction foreman Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), the hits the road from Birmingham to London the night before he must supervise an record setting concrete pour. Ivan has learned that a woman he's had a one night stand with is giving birth to his child prematurely and decides to do the right thing and be with her. The problem is Ivan is married with children which, along with his work complicates things.

"Locke" is not like other films you'll see this year, it is a primarily dialogue-driven one man "chamber play", what that means is the film takes place almost solely in Ivan's car and the entire film focuses on Ivan himself, other cast members are only heard over his in-car speaker phone and never seen. There's a considerable amount of risk when mounting a film like this, the first is casting - it's important to make sure the lead role is not only right for the part but is a stand out performer, because they are only character audiences see. Secondly, limiting yourself to one location (in this case a car) filmmaker's are limiting themselves in how they can shoot the film, so some creativity is necessary to keep the film fresh, moving along and to keep it interesting enough to engage viewers throughout the entire runtime of the film.

screenwriter/director Steven Knight certainly cast the film well, Hardy is a competent actor and plays a role we're not entirely used to seeing from him. Hardy has become synonymous with playing hard-edged bada**es, Locke is the opposite of Bronson, Tommy Conlon, most certainly Bane. Locke is a soft spoken, level-headed, yet assertive family man who is dedicated to his job, he made a mistake and is trying to make things right both with his one night stand, Bethan (Olivia Colman). It's a bit jarring seeing him play a character that's so against type yet also refreshing as he manages to flex some range we haven't previously seen. Locke interacts with callers during the film, essentially we're watching a film about a guy driving on the motorway and making calls to his wife, kids, work colleagues etc, the actors playing the roles of callers were actually calling Hardy in the car from a hotel room the production paid for making the interactions real and just having Hardy act to an off-camera production assistant reading him lines. As a result, Hardy manages to engage the viewer and for 84 minutes inside a car that's a win for the filmmakers.

The filmmakers shot this film in a rather unconventional manner, it primarily consists of one continuous scene shot every night for six consecutive nights. The crew used three cameras placed in and around the car to capture it. This method does limit the filmmakers in some respect, how many shots can you really set up? outside the car looking in - from front windscreen, from driver's side window, from passenger's side window, from rear window - inside the car from passenger's side, from back seat, and occasionally being creative using the rearview mirrors. Then there's the various tracking shots of the car driving from a camera vehicle, plus cut aways of the roads, streetlights, passerby vehicles, police, etc... eventually the tricks like abstract focus on lights and light streaks end and the types of set-ups are repeated and repeated, this does get tiresome at about the halfway point in the film. In many ways the film's gimmick is also its biggest weakness.

The plot is rather conventional and Knight does an apt job of leading viewers on revealing the secrets of the character, his actions and motivations over the course of the film. Had they revealed all at the start the film would have ended within minutes. This lies one of the problems with the film, it feels like a short film stretched out as a feature. This all comes back to Hardy, had it not been his engaging performance the flaws would seem all the more obvious. In the end "Locke" is a good experiment with a solid actor at the lead, it's worth checking out.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression. The film was shot digitally on the RED epic, this camera has, over the years proven itself as a dependable workhorse of the digital cinema revolution. "Locke" for the most part looks great, colors are well rendered and display the solitary nature of driving on the highway at night, complete with the yellow sodium lights that populate the streets, flashing police lights, cars passing by and the endless nature of city backgrounds add depth to the picture. Skin tones look good as does detail but the image does have its problems, as its a film shot entirely at night there is occasional noise and murky blacks, this leads to reduced detail. This however is the only problem I encountered, otherwise its a decent picture.

Audio

A single audio track is featured in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, this track is about as minimalist as they come. The film is predominately dialogue based, there's very little music and the soundtrack is made up of Hardy's dialogue, the callers plus any car/highway environmental noises that allows viewers to feel as if in the car with Locke during this journey, that's about as much as one can ask for. Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired, and Spanish.

Extras

Lionsgate has released this film with a small selection of extras that include an audio commentary, an single featurette, a collection of bonus trailers, a digital copy version of the film, plus a bookmarks feature. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up we've got a feature-length audio commentary by director Steven Knight. It would have been nice to have Hardy included in this track, because Knight certainly keeps things low key here. He manages to provide some useful production information but he slowly churns through this movie that it proves occasionally boring listing to him.

Next is the "Ordinary Unraveling: Making Locke" (1080p) featurette which runs for 9 minutes 37 seconds, this is the basic EPK style clips that are produced to generate interest in the film and its key cast and crew.

A collection of bonus trailers (1080p) are also included for:

- "Enemy" which runs for 2 minutes 11 seconds.
- "Under The Skin" which runs for 2 minutes 6 seconds.
- "The Rover" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- "Joe" which runs for 2 minutes 33 seconds.
- "Blood Ties" which runs for 2 minutes 27 seconds.
- "Houdini" which runs for 1 minute 10 seconds.

Lionsgate's bookmarks feature is also included.

A digital copy version of the film is also included via an activation code.

Packaging

Packaged in a blu-ray keep case, first pressings include a cardboard slip-case.


Overall

The Film: B- Video: B Audio: B Extras: B- Overall: B-

 


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