Directed by: Steven Knight
Written by: Steven Knight
Produced by: Paul Webster, Guy Heeley
Other cast: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Bill Milner
Release date: 18 April 2014
Premiere date: 2 September 2013 (Venice International Film Festival)
Genre: Psychological drama
Running time: 85 minutes
Ivan Locke, a dedicated family man and successful construction manager, receives a phone call on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career that sets in motion a series of events that threaten his carefully cultivated existence.
The evening before he must supervise a large concrete pour in Birmingham (the largest non-nuclear facility, non-military concrete pour in European history), construction foreman Ivan Locke learns that Bethan, a colleague from a job in Croydon with whom he had a one-night stand seven months before (which resulted in her becoming pregnant), has gone into premature labour. Despite his job responsibilities and although his wife and sons are eagerly awaiting his arrival home to watch an important football match, Locke decides to drive to London to be with Bethan during childbirth. Locke never forgave his father for abandoning him as a child, and he is determined not to make the same mistake, even though he has no relationship with, nor any particular feelings for, Bethan.
Over the course of the one and a half-hour drive from Birmingham to London, Locke holds a total of 36 phone calls with: his boss Gareth; his backup colleague Donal; Katrina, wife of 15 years, to confess his infidelity; his sons, Eddie and Sean, who call him separately with updates on the match and (eventually) the worrisome breakdown of their mother; St Mary’s maternity unit medical personnel, Sister Margaret then Halil Gullu, who are working with Bethan through some troubling complications; the council head, Cassidy, and local police authority, PC Davids, required for the road closures needed to allow the 225+ concrete trucks to properly access the site; and with Bethan to reassure her during her labour. During these calls, he is fired from his job, banned from his house by his wife, and asked by his older son to please return home. He coaches his assistant Donal through preparing the pour despite some major setbacks, and has imaginary conversations with his dead father, whom he envisions (unseen onscreen) as a passenger in the car; he berates his father for abandoning Locke’s family, and vows he will not repeat that mistake. When he is close to the hospital, Bethan calls to share the cooing of the baby, having had a successful birth.
Shooting for Locke took place over eight nights, utilizing three different cameras, inside a BMW X5 that was pulled down the M6 motorway on a flatbed trailer. As the film was made to give off the impression of being done in a single take, the film was filmed in its entirety twice per night, and the crew only took breaks between each taping to change the memory cards.
Tom Hardy’s character, Ivan Locke, is the only one to appear onscreen; the others are heard on the vehicle’s speakerphone. The actors recorded their voices in real time as they called from a conference room that served as the multiple “locations” for the various characters. To keep Tom Hardy on his toes, director Steven Knight would tell new things for the actors on the phone to incorporate while shooting their conversations.
Locke was shown out of competition at the 70th Venice International Film Festival, as well as during the Spotlight program in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It was eventually released on 18 April 2014 in the United Kingdom, where it earned $3,264,654. On 25 April 2014, it opened in the United States and earned $1,375,769. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD shortly afterward on 12 August 2014.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 91%, based off 212 reviews with an average rating of 7.71/10.
Ivan Locke’s cold was written into the script because Tom Hardy had developed a cold during production.
Tom Hardy had three requests when he accepted the role: for Steven Knight to be a writer for Hardy’s miniseries Taboo; a chunky jumper; and to keep his beard. The latter two were owing to their resemble of a ship captain, in keeping with the film’s theme of Ivan Locke weathering a storm.
During Ivan’s drive to London, there were 36 phone calls – 13 outgoing, 21 incoming, 1 ignored call and 1 going to voice mail. At least half the calls ended with Ivan being hung up on or Ivan hanging up on the caller.