Original Review by Phil
When I first heard about “Locke,” I thought it was a novel concept that drew me in more out of curiosity than anything else. Tom Hardy, in a car, on the phone, for 84 minutes. That’s it. It’s a strange concept, but somehow, it works wonderfully. Locke could have very easily been nothing more than a gimmick. It wound up being a fascinating character study for modern times.
I think this movie really spoke to me because every conversation happens via phone. As technology advances, we are forced to have more of our meaningful interactions through the use of technology. This really struck me as I thought back on how many of my major interactions in the past and still today do not take place face-to-face.
The company I work for is very big into “agile” workforces. As a result, my manager is in Houston, and the three people who report to me are located in Green Bay, Tallahassee, and Mumbai. Needless to say, you have to be a little adaptive with how you work in a situation like that. I’ve had a couple projects where I’ve had to be very organized in order to talk someone on the other end through it. Unlike Ivan Locke, I’m not nearly as organized or detail oriented. If you know the Myers-Brigg personality scale, then you were probably able to peg Ivan as an ISTJ. In comparison, I am an ENTP. Pretty much as far away as you can get. I got a kick out of the conversations with Donal as it reminded me of having to do something similar with an intern, and I was pretty scattered to say the least. Thanks to that stupid “Perceptor” portion, I pretty much loathe organization and planning, opting for adaptability when things change. Ivan had his plan and his backup plan. He had the entire concrete pour down to a science (thanks “Sensor”), while I was much more likely to forget a step. As a manager, I couldn’t help but respect Ivan.
I don’t have the same envy of Ivan in his personal life, as parts of it also hit a little close to home. For the first two years of my relationship with my wife, we had a long distance relationship. Long distance relationships suck. Several conversations that should have been in person could not be b/c it just isn’t feasible to drive four hours roundtrip because someone had a bad day or was really questioning major decisions in their life up to that point. It’s a feeling of powerlessness. This was only exacerbated by me, b/c I consider myself a fixer. Ivan is the same way. Leaving things in a bad place isn’t in either of our DNA. With the concrete pour, he had his plan, and he knew a capable person could execute. He doesn’t have a backup plan here, as Bethan went into labor early. It was amazing to see how a man could be so prepared and in control of one aspect of his life was so much the opposite in the other. Ivan’s plan for his personal life was terrible, and all suffered as a result. I thought these scenes were some of the best acting of the movie. Hardy is great here, understanding the hopelessness of the situation yet still soldiering on, hoping to get another chance when he already knows that isn’t going to happen. I couldn’t help but feel awful for everyone involved here. Kristina had done everything to make sure Ivan was going to have a relaxing, happy night with his family – she got his favorite beer and she was wearing whatever stupid shirt Ivan liked. However, I may have felt worse for his son, especially when he pleads with Ivan to come home and they’ll just rewatch the game like it’s live, essentially pretending this whole ordeal never happened.
Our last important relationship is that with Bethan, Ivan’s one-night stand and now baby mama. Here, we see the “Thinker” portion of Ivan’s personality in full force, and again, his interactions with Bethan felt relatable in a very bad way to me. Ivan has a problem with being brutally honest. It’s what got him in this situation to begin with. I appreciated and understood his entire interaction with Bethan. He refused to lie to allow her to feel a little bit better, essentially admitting he felt nothing for her. This is a very “Thinker” trait I know all too well. Ivan is brutally honest to a fault, refusing the let Bethan believe that she is anything more than a fling. The same happens with anyone he talks to about her. It’s commendable and cringeworthy. I think this also works itself into the “fixer” aspect that I felt like Ivan had. Thinkers have a difficult time grasping that time will heal all wounds. Instead, there must be definable actions that lead to the positive outcome. We don’t understand things getting better by doing nothing. This is what I would expect to happen with Kristina, eventually being willing to forgive Ivan once the emotion of the situation has gone down. It could take a while, years even, for that emotion to subside. In general, thinkers struggle with emotion. We tend to come off as callous, not willing to fake an emotional reaction that doesn’t exist. It’s easy to think of Ivan as a jerk in his reactions with Bethan, but that wasn’t how I interpreted it at all. He was just honest, helping her understand the reality of the situation. He wanted to help, he wanted to see his infant son rose well, but wasn’t going to marry Bethan or anything like that. Ivan understands how things will play out based on his actions – it’s why he wasn’t at all shocked with how everything played in his personal and professional life on that car ride.
So, ultimately, how do we all feel about Ivan’s decision to go see Bethan on that night? It’s easy to see it as selfless as noble, but I found it to be an extremely selfish decision. In the first shot, when Ivan is deciding to turn left or right, he’s playing the scenarios out in his head. He knows what will happen if he goes to Bethan. He’s played the entire movie out in his head, yet he still does it. Is anyone better off by his actions? Ultimately, yes, one person is better off – Ivan himself. We see it in the final shot, the look of satisfaction that he knows he made the “right” decision. He has no problem jeopardizing a concrete pour costing millions of dollars or wrecking his own family in order to relieve himself of the guilt of not being there for the birth of his bastard. He could have come later, as his feelings for Bethan are made perfectly clear and it never seemed to me like he was doing it for her. Once we have the reveal that Ivan grew up without a father, everything fell into place. This was a make-up call for his upbringing. Ivan reflecting alone on his own father is the one part of the movie that felt clunky and out of place. Hardy yelling at a ghost in the backseat just felt really goofy and dumb.
“Locke” is a movie that works for me because of how relatable Ivan was to me. I can understand a person really hating this movie, but I think that depends on who you are as a person. Ivan was a very relatable character to me, as we share several character flaws. I don’t agree with his decision to go to Bethan, nor do I find it noble, but I do understand it. He made one bad decision, and he gave up everything to pay for that decision. He did it willingly though, which is what makes him such an interesting character. I’d like to think he gets back to a sense of normalcy someday, when time has healed all these wounds. However, I know Ivan – I don’t expect him to sit idly by and wait for that.
+ Fascinating character study
+ Well acted
+ Proves to be more than a gimmick
- Dad ghost stuff was silly