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"Locke": Take a Drive with Tom Hardy as His Life Falls Apart 

Wednesday, Apr 30 2014
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This resolutely minimal movie consists of Tom Hardy alone in a car for an hour and a half. True, he talks on the phone with some other people, but Hardy's is the only face we ever see. Which makes up for not seeing enough of it in The Dark Knight Rises, even if that movie's fans probably will find this one differently stifling. Locke is not a thriller. It's just one guy's drama. Hardy plays an upstanding construction foreman who, on the eve of a career capstone, abandons his job and his family, both until now very carefully managed, for a long nighttime drive from Birmingham to London. His reasons are personal; there's something he must do, and he's sure it's the right thing. The writer and director of Locke is Steven Knight, who also made the Jason Statham action pic Redemption, wrote David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, and created Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? So you might say he has more range than Locke lets on. Its script is stagey and sometimes contrived, but effective thanks to Hardy and fine supporting players including Olivia Colman and Ruth Wilson (or their voices, anyway). Directorially, Knight's austerity can seem at once like audacious confidence and like a lack of visual imagination. Aside from Hardy's face, he lingers indolently on bokeh blooms drifting across the windshield, or, better, the GPS image of a lonely dot on a lonely road, heading straight into a void. Other imagery is evoked through dialogue alone, like his wife's memory of Locke's wet-concrete footprints turning to stone on the kitchen floor. Knight's research on concrete-pour logistics, by the way, is at least deep and detailed enough to distract us from some big-picture improbabilities. All told, though, this is a drive worth taking.

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Jonathan Kiefer

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SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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