Locke Blu-ray Review: Fury Road Trip

Sometimes high concept films can be very low fi. The question is: will the story within the film transcend the experiment of its conception? I think Locke does, slightly, but I would also argue that the experiment itself is worth doing.

The concept of Locke is: can we make a whole movie in a car starring only the driver? There isn’t necessarily a greater good to this experiment. Even if it were wildly successful, I don’t think Locke would inspire a spate of “single characters driving” movies. In fact, once successful, it kind of renders itself obsolete since now it obviously can be done. But I am in favor of pushing the limits of limitations.

Perhaps I overthought the introduction to this review a little bit. Locke may be less about the narrative situation and more just about how much we want to watch Tom Hardy on screen. He is entirely compelling for the duration, like James Franco in 127 Hours, Tom Hanks in Cast Away, Paul Walker in (a personal favorite of mine) Hours or any number of solo movies to which you could compare it. That too is reason enough to make the movie, to provide a vehicle (pun intended) for an actor who’s worth it.

What elevates the somewhat generic, though no less honest situations in which Locke finds himself is how calm his reactions to everything are. Most people, real or fictional, would start yelling at people right away. It’s sad that a measured response is so unusual these days, but it makes Locke stand out, makes him admirable in fact. At his most heated, he never goes full scream, and the degree to which he does get heated is all the more telling about this calm man with whom we’ve been driving.

I’m also impressed that it looks like writer/director Steven Knight shot Locke in a real car on the real road. I get antsy just thinking about having to back up to certain marks on the road and time the passing cars so they would be identical in different takes, thus matching everything together in editing. The drive we’re supposed to take for granted must have been a complex logistical achievement. 

Related: Watch an Exclusive Blu-ray Special Feature from ‘Locke’

The bonus features informed me that the actual logistics were even more daunting. They didn’t just do retakes on the road. They shot the entire movie in one go! As Knight explains in the commentary track, they would make pit stops to reload the cameras, but it was basically two passes at the film each night for two weeks, and we are seeing the best moments from each take in the edit. Wow. 

It also looks great on Blu-ray. Since the lights aren’t on in the car, the only light we see is from passing street lights or other cars. The light is constantly shifting around Hardy, and the darkness is as attractive as the illuminated portions. The colors are significant too, showering Hardy with red from break lights, or a golden glow from above.

I was already on board for the simplest version of this Locke experiment and it proved to be successful even several layers deep. I suppose the next step would be: can you do a movie entirely set in a car starring only the driver in which he takes no cell phone calls whatsoever, or talks to no one else? Yeah… chew on that.

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.