Friday, September 5, 2014

Locke Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a man at the top of his game. A dedicated husband and father and a star employee at a high-powered construction firm, he's the model of cool professionalism with a talent for managing complex situations. Driving home on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career, Locke makes a sudden choice to go confront the only situation in his life that can't be neatly handled. He quickly learns that the cost of becoming a better man is high. Locke is a unique cinematic experience and story of choices, consequences and a man who risks everything he holds dear in order to do the right thing.
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a successful construction foreman who is preparing for a massive concrete pour in the morning. He should be checking details and confirming road closures. Instead he begins a two hour drive out of town. Ivan is about to become a father and is rushing to be present at the birth. This seems like a reasonable excuse to miss work, but it is not Ivan’s wife giving birth. Ivan first springs the news on his boss and an employee named Donal (Andrew Scott) over the phone. Although this quickly results in Ivan’s termination from the company, he promises to make sure everything is ready for the pour. Ivan has been an exemplary and long term employee but the company management back in the United States makes the call. Despite that, Ivan cares about the job, whether or not he’s a part of the company. Thanks to the bluetooth in his BMW, Ivan keeps in contact with Donal and fixes problems as they arise.

In between construction calls, Ivan has to work up the nerve to break the news to his wife. Ivan’s sons are home watching football and update their father on the progress of the game and their mother’s status as she learns of her husband’s indiscretions. Bethan, the woman giving birth is very high strung, doesn’t have any one to be with her and calls Ivan frequently. Locke also begins talking to his father in between calls. He clearly has daddy issues, and he speaks to his father (who is not on the phone or in the car) as if he’s sitting beside him. The idea of a man going through a personal crisis on a car ride needed a better story.

For the first quarter of the film, I found myself interested in the character, Locke. As you learn about his life and his work/personal situation you realize he’s a good man and a hard worker. He made a mistake in a one-time affair and he clearly wants to keep his family intact. The character Bethan’s neediness becomes quickly annoying and I wanted Locke to turn around – oversee his pour and repair the damage done to his family. The second half of the film didn’t live up to the first half and the ending came rather abruptly. I found myself annoyed by the different calls, annoyed at how long it took Locke to answer some of them and I spent too much time waiting for something exciting to happen.

Locke is not the first film to explore the idea of one actor in one location. Colin Farrell portrayed quite a bit of drama in Phone Booth. Ryan Reynolds spent an entire movie in a coffin in Buried. Neither were blockbuster hits, but they did manage to keep things interesting and suspenseful with the focus on a single actor. In Locke, the film takes place over one man’s car ride. Tom Hardy’s acting is not the problem; he and the voice actors all do a great job. The script felt like a first draft, or a pitch for the idea of a movie about a guy in a car. The script needed a lot of work, and a little more true drama before it became final. I understand the filmmakers were trying to be subtle, but eventually subtle became dull. I’m amazed at other’s who have told me they found this film to be Oscar worthy and a must see. It was worth watching, not worth raving about. It’s certainly not worth re-watching.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Locke is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in a 2.40:1 ratio. The film takes places entirely at night, and inside a vehicle. Needless to say, it’s not a brightly lit set. Most of the footage is close-ups of Locke and everything appears to have an intentional gold tint. Luckily black levels are excellent and detail is sufficient. I certainly wouldn’t put this film in to test out your new television but for what it is, it’s done well.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Locke's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is easy to hear and understand when Locke is speaking and when his callers talk. The people on the phone due sound like they are on a phone, adding to the reality of the situation. The film is predominantly dialogue with accurate traffic and road sounds to supplement.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray contains a commentary track and only one additional feature.
  • Audio Commentary with Director Steven Knight. – The Director discusses the films inspiration and the logistics behind the challenging shoot. 
  • Ordinary Unraveling: Making Locke – Just under ten minutes, this making of featurette includes more information about the technical challenges and techniques used for the car footage.
    Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
    I expected to be wowed by this film, and I wasn’t. I can’t complain about the acting or the concept. The set up was more rewarding than the finale and I had definitely set my expectations too high. The film is worth watching, look/sounds good on Blu-ray but doesn’t include many special features or other reasons to warrant running out to purchase this. I recommend this as a rental, not a must own.
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