The poster for Locke says (in, one might imagine, a bit of a desperate tone) that Locke "reverberates with the power of big, universal themes". In fact, Locke is about a kind of masculine dream of keeping it all together, of handling things and making them turn out to be ok. It's the fantasy of the good father and the sort of essence of what masculinity is. So... universal? Not really.
What that something is is a little harder to define. Steven Knight's film is a Tom Hardy vehicle. And it is 85 minutes of Tom Hardy and his telephone. He is driving, and he's in the car, and he's on the phone. That's it. That's the movie. The cinematographer does his best to keep things visually interesting and mostly succeeds. And Tom Hardy is excellent, as he almost always is.
Locke is an elegant little thing with a tight script, and it is certainly interesting in a formal sort of way, even if gimmicky might be a better way of describing it. Locke is a construction man who oversees concrete pours, and so the metaphors of sturdiness and dependability and cracks are all put to subtle but insistent use by Knight's script. (As I noted, it isn't quite a universal thing – sturdiness and solidity are old-school masculine preoccupations.) Still, this all works well, and Hardy's performance is heartfelt and beautiful and restrained.
But despite its truly excellent ending, Locke just isn't all that interesting. All of the right ingredients are there, but somehow the whole thing just doesn't work without a hitch. I felt myself wanting to check my watch, and the 85 minutes felt longer and longer as they went on. Would this have been an excellent 65-minute film? Perhaps.