LOCKED DOWN (HBO) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: Just as they decide to separate, Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) find life has other plans when they are stuck at home in a mandatory lockdown. Co-habitation is proving to be a challenge, but fueled by poetry and copious amounts of wine, it will bring them closer together in the most surprising way.
Premiering on HBO is this romantic heist movie set during the pandemic and shot over 18 days in London. Featuring Anna Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Doug Liman, the action director behind The Bourne Identity, Mr & Mrs Smith and The Edge of Tomorrow.
Big names. Small movie though.
Linda (Hathaway) and Paxton (Ejiofor) plays a couple who is on the verge of ending their relationship with constant bickering and quarrelling about their past and present during their lockdown. Linda as the CEO of a marketing company spends her days on Zoom liked firing her staff online for a start. Paxton on the other hand is trying to find a decent job after assaulting someone years back and is currently losing his mind because quarantine doesn’t help isn’t it?
One day, Paxton gets a job transporting jewelries from Harrods and it so happens that Linda’s company has a prize diamond that has to be returned back to New York. So Linda hatched a crazy plan of swapping the real one with a replica and intend to make off with a diamond that is worth $3 million pounds.
Despite the selling point of it being a heist movie, it takes a long, long way just to get there and even that, it fares like a failed experiment. For the most part, it’s merely Linda and Paxton yakking. Paxton complaining about his predicament and mouthing religious quotes with his boss (Sir Ben Kingsley in a cameo), Linda ranting about her near breakdown which caused her to fall back on cigarettes. Paxton reading poems to the whole neighborhood, smoking opium while Linda getting disillusioned with her job by the days. Its stuff liked these that took up more than half of the runtime.
While Anna Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor has lots of chemistry and charisma to share, there’s only so much an audience can take in. The Covid-19 setting is just a gimmick not exactly something that steer the narrative. Steven Knight who also wrote and directed the 2019 flop, Serenity seems to be writing a stage play rather than a well-panned out movie. This is genuinely material that works best on the stage. Imagine two incredible actors and their powerful monologues. Assemble all these elements in a feature film and that is Locked Down.
And when it comes to the finale, Liman didn’t even bother to have the leads do anything other than more talking and arguing across the gorgeous aisles of Harrods. At least break a lock or something. Other than a repetitive gag about Edgar Allen Poe and stars liked Ben Stiller, Stephen Merchant and Mindy Kaling calling in via Zoom for a few minutes of humorous chat, there’s practically nothing of importance and interesting to talk about.
It’s a pity but not a surprise to see how limiting Locked Down turned out to be despite the sheer enthusiasm of Anna Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It seems clear that everyone involved is having a bit of fun doing this project during a pandemic. Fun for them perhaps but definitely a miss for us.
Review by Linus Tee