Locked Down is a film about a couple unravelling during the COVID-19 lock down in London. The two have been growing apart for a while and the fact that they can't escape each other is driving them apart. Though, an opportunity presents itself as Paxton's boss has an idea to use him as a courier despite his furlough and Linda needs to move high value merchandise from Harrod's department store to Heathrow. The two decide that they may be able to solve all of their problems with a little infusion of cash. They go back and forth about whether or not to take advantage of the opportunity until the final moment. The film stars Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dulé Hill, Jazmyn Simon, Frances RuffelleBobby Schofield, Tallulah Grieve, Dan Ball, Katie Leung, Mark Gatiss, Eva Röse, Sam Spruell, Steven Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Marek Larwood, Claes Bang, Ben Stiller, and Ben Kingsley. The film is directed by Doug Liman and written by Steven Knight. The film is streaming exclusively on HBO Max.
Thank goodness this film wasn't entirely made up of Zoom calls. I would have turned it off not long after starting it. Yet, even though it is more than that, it is the silliest of ideas to do. Locked Down feels like a movie with few of the real stakes we are facing. It has the hallmarks of what a COVID-19 movie about COVID-19 lock down will be in the future. There are constant references the current normal. It kind of felt grating to me to see these played out in a fictional context like check marks on a to do list. Zoom freezes, check. Banging pots and pans, check. Furlough, check. Toilet paper hoarding, check. I don't see the point of examining the foibles of our lives while these foibles still persist.
Despite all that, Locked Down does have a really intriguing relationship drama to it. Steven Knight's strength as a writer is in his ability to make dialogue between two people intriguing enough that the camera never has to do any work. He has a way of building in a mix of high-minded navel gazing and excellent humor. The beauty of Linda is not in her take no shit personality, but in that she's a weirdo artist who some how got stuck in the corporate world. The tragedy of Paxton isn't that fate has cursed him, but that he's got to live with this one mistake of his youth hanging over his head for the rest of his life. It's a smartly written dialogue heavy script, that loses itself in a less than interesting plot.
A real low for the movie is the heist plot line. Give me a relationship drama with all the passion of two people who can't stand to look at each other, but don't know how to live without each other. Don't add in a convoluted, morally gray, but far more good than evil, plot. Don't try to remind me that the wealthy and the horrible just continued to be wealthy and horrible while the majority of the world suffers loss after loss.
This script sings in the mouths of the two truly charismatic and brilliant leads. Anne Hathaway is uninhibited and sharp edged. She has venom in her veins and it pours out in the most intense diatribes by someone in pajama pants, which are matched only by her manic machinations about the jewel heist itself. Chiwetel Ejiofor is working on a whole different plane as well with a kind of a "fuck it" attitude, but also an intensity of stress about what will happen in the future. I love the highs and lows he brings to Paxton.
Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor truly are amazing, but I couldn't end this without mentioning my favorite Zoom scene stealer, Ben Kingsley. He plays the very religious operator of the delivery company Paxton works for and he is hysterical in his obliviousness. The peak is Ben Kingsley absolutely selling the idea that Malcolm sees nothing wrong with Paxton using the alias Edgar Allan Poe. Him asking the empty office if anyone else knows who that is is just icing on the cake.
It's really hard to love a movie about the times you're living in because regardless it's going to shine an overly positive light on things when we know that at the end we'll only see the darkness we continue to experience. There's a sheen and an aggressively nerve-wracking ideal to this movie. I laughed out loud, I was impressed by the performances, but the pallid hanging over it of the daily struggles and stresses we have is a little too much. I still think you should check it out if you're looking for commiseration. Stay past the credits for Paxton making the dreaded homemade loaf of bread.