Locke is a man of conviction, wrestling with a troubled conscience by refusing to lie to himself or others. Truth-telling is admirable, of course. Proverbs tell us, "Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight" (12:22). But Locke raises the question of how to convey the truth: how bluntly, how unvarnished, how regardless of the consequences. Locke observes, "I will do what needs to be done, whether they hate me or love me." While we might commend Locke for refusing to engage in lies, the way he unloads difficult truths on those he loves can be legitimately questioned. What does a somewhat unexpected, added responsibility in Locke's life mean for his other responsibilities? How will abandoning one responsibility (his job) complicate his other responsibilities—to his family and to those who rely on him to take care of them? While lies would only complicate Locke’s situation, his embrace of truth cries out for further consideration of the consequences of his decision-making.

However, it's hard to hold such concerns against the film. The long-term consequences of Locke's decisions can't be sorted out in 85 minutes of screen time. Instead, Locke focuses on a man making a decision and convincing himself he's done the right thing. It's to the movie's credit that we’re so caught up in the forces pressing down on Locke that we, like him, don't consider some of the longer-term impacts of his choices until the lights have come up and the credits have rolled.

"I remember you. You ran a tight ship," Locke remembers being told of his management skills. That description applies to Knight's film as well. Locke is a tight ship, constructed to keep you guessing even as you give yourself over to the skilled storytelling set in a confined space.

With Locke, Knight proves himself a fine director, and Hardy lays claim to serious awards consideration for his controlled performance. Although the film is not in wide release and probably isn't playing at the theater closest to you, a longer-than-usual trip to a more distant venue may be in order. Locke is worth the drive.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Language/Profanity: Several uses of the f-word; "Jesus"; "ba-tard"; crude term for female anatomy
  • Drinking/Smoking: Discussion of drinking and its effects; a man admits he’s had too much to drink; Locke tells a man that he hopes his conscience will keep him from drinking
  • Sex/Nudity: None
  • Violence/Crime: A threat of bodily harm; discussions with the imagined ghost of Locke’s father
  • Religion/Morals/MarriageDiscussion of infidelity and family obligations; Locke says he has a direct line to God, and "don't trust God when it comes to concrete"

Publication date: May 2, 2014