All of Locke takes place inside a BMW that Ivan (Tom Hardy) is racing to … well, no fair telling, but let’s just say he needs to be at a certain place in London by a specific time. But the timing couldn’t be worse for Ivan: He’s a construction director who is overseeing a massive project that is ready to break ground in a few hours, but he’s not going to be able to be there for the first concrete pour. His family is disappointed he’s not going to be home in time to watch a championship soccer match with them as they had planned. And periodically, as he speeds along on the highway, he rants to his dead father as if he were sitting in the back seat, lambasting him for being a poor dad.
Ivan speaks to various actual people — his wife, his sons, his co-workers, the person awaiting him at his destination — via hands-free cellphone in his car. Bit by bit, you come to understand his situation and why he’s willing to risk everything (his job, his marriage, his career) to fulfill his mission. Writer-director Steven Knight, who previously wrote Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things, does his best to avoid visual claustrophobia by shooting Hardy from every conceivable angle: Inside the car, outside, from the front, from the back, first-person perspective, bird’s-eye view, everything. But Locke is still a movie in which a conversation about the importance of properly built foundations eats up a third of the running time and in which the only protagonist is potentially ruining his life by a situation that doesn’t make much sense.