Locked Down (2021) Jan 16, 2021 15:04:20 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jan 16, 2021 15:04:20 GMT -5
Locked Down (2021)
Directed by: Doug Liman
Directed by: Doug Liman
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway in Locked Down.
One disheartening element about these straight-to-streaming releases is they're mainstream talking points for a few days before ostensibly disappearing into the ether as fellow victims of binge-watch culture. You could reasonably dub this "the Netflix effect," which has turned the film and TV landscape into one where folks obsessively stream every single new episode of a show only to move onto another, completely forget what they've watched in no time, and then lose their place in the series once a new season is released nearly two years later. More on that in another piece, perhaps.
That fate of obscurity is destined for Locked Down, a film that's only purpose is a seldom entertaining time capsule of unprecedented times™, and to boast a number of eyebrow-raising stats. "A film shot during the pandemic." "A film for these troubling times." At its core, this is a truly bizarre amalgam of domestic strife by way of mumblecore and shoehorned heist drama that squanders relatability in its focus on apathetic rich folk monologuing about their problems, never realizing they have it better than most of the world. These sins could be forgiven had the film been at least entertaining. This is material ripe for a thirty minute short at most. Not a two hour film that begs you to check your phone less than halfway through.
The opening scene greets us with a familiar sight: a once-bustling London street-corner turned desolate in lieu of the initial COVID-19 lockdowns that swept the world. Locked Down revolves around Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor in an atypically squirrely role) and Linda (Anne Hathaway), a feuding couple who are only under the same roof due to the reality that they cannot go anywhere. Paxton is having something of a midlife crisis. In his former life, he was a bad-boy-biker; now he's merely a disillusioned, directionless thirtysomething slowly losing his mind in isolation with a disintegrated relationship. Linda at least has a job, albeit a thankless one that involves moderating Zoom meetings that end in her firing various employees from her corporate conglomerate she's grown to loathe. This is already upbeat material during the very same ongoing hellscape in which we live.
Then something happens. Paxton gets rehired to drive goods from department stores across London to a countryside storage facility. Linda, in the meantime, is told by her superior (Ben Stiller, via Zoom) that she needs to take a diamond that her company has on display at Harrods and ship it to New York, where it will be stashed in a vault. Linda has another plan. With Paxton, she devises a scheme to take the £3 million diamond for themselves while sending the glass replica to the mysterious buyer — who she believes won't even question the legitimacy before keeping it locked away.
The first half-hour of Locked Down is its most compelling, for it grounds the viewer with Paxton and Linda as they do everything they can to avoid each other, be that with Zoom calls with friends or finding different rooms in the home. It's when this cockamamie heist comes into play that things take a turn for the asinine. We're led to believe these are two reasonable individuals, relationship fatigue and lockdown depression aside, and the fact that they'd commit to such a plan doesn't seem very logical on the surface. Furthermore, the ensuing robbery distracts from the ideas screenwriter Steven Knight clearly wants to present: how our lives will be affected post-pandemic, socially, economically, and occupationally. These ideas are merely left as afterthoughts once the heist is set into motion, and by then, it's well-past the expiration of interest.
Locked Down features a number of cameos, from Stiller, Mindy Kaling, and Ben Kingsley to name a few. Regardless of the fact their presence is diminished due to most appearing virtually, they're ancillary to the dynamic of Paxton and Linda, which should've been the primary focus. Doug Liman's film feels as if it was conceived as an accomplishment more than a thoughtful project. It appears to want to be a pioneer in pandemic filmmaking — if that's what we're calling this now — but it has no idea how to infuse its ideas into a workable picture. Off-handed jokes about mask-wearing and learning how to make bread already feel dated. While not as offensive as something like Songbird, Locked Down says very little about the state of society and is quick to abandon an opportunity for audience introspection with such a feeble narrative swing.
Quality writing shouldn't be inhibited by the pandemic, but here, that is sadly the case with such an overlong, ill-conceived mess.
NOTE: Locked Down is now available to stream on HBO Max.
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anne Hathaway, Ben Kingsley, Ben Stiller, Dulé Hill, Jazmyn Simon, and Mindy Kaling. Directed by: Doug Liman.