It was George Santayana who said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Though as far as I know he didn’t have an opinion about those individuals whom not only can’t forget the past, but who hold it so tightly to their chests that it defines them, and potentially leads to ruin.
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is such a person. When we meet him he’s just completed work, he’s a construction foreman in Britain, and is apparently on his way home.
That is, till he reaches a literal, as well as figurative, fork in the road; and we’re along for the ride. Locke seems like a decent man; he loves his wife and children and is good at what he does, which is why it’s interesting to watch as he makes his way down the highway, every mile bringing him closer and closer to his figurative, and perhaps literal, doom. In fact, part of what makes this movie so fascinating is that Locke seems to be deliberately upending his own life, as if his were a house built on a foundation of sand instead of concrete. And we’re powerless to stop him–even if we could–because we can see that Locke means well, even when he doesn’t necessarily act it.
Tom Hardy does remarkably well in a movie that he’s carries almost entirely on his shoulders. I write “almost entirely” because Locke at times received some very interesting phone calls. Some of them are frightening, others are hilarious, though all of them are interesting and act as exposition without making it obvious that a large part of their purpose is to help us understand who Locke is, and by extension, why he acts as he does.
It’s worth mentioning that the highway is as much a star of the movie as Hardy, as well as the car he drives, which I think is a BMW X3 (I am grateful that writer/director Steven McKnight somehow manages not to turn the movie into an extended BMW advert–we see their logo once early on, but that’s it–which is worthy of praise when you consider that for virtually the entire running time of the movie he’s in it).
Two other stars of the movie worth mentioning are Haris Zambarloukos and Justine Wright, the cinematographer and editor of the film, who are able to create the almost hypnotic feel of traveling long distances via car, with plenty of blurred headlights fading into the distance and reflected upon the windshield.
And as far as I could tell the entire movie was shot in a moving car, which shows how skillful a director Steven McKnight is because the whole film is simply Tom Hardy driving a car, yet it somehow manages to be interesting for most of its entire running time.