Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Linda (Anne Hathaway), having decided to break up, find themselves stuck in their house together quarantined as London enters lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bored, frustrated by work, and hoping to take advantage of lockdown restrictions, they decide to attempt a jewellery heist at a department store.
With direction by Doug Liman (whose credits include ‘The Bourne Identity’ and ‘Live Die Repeat’) and a script from Steven Knight (the creator of ‘Peaky Blinders’), one would think ‘Locked Down’ was a recipe for success. It also has quite a cast between Hathaway, Ejiofor, Ben Kingsley, Ben Stiller, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, and Mark Gatiss. And yet, little about ‘Locked Down’ coalesces together as it should.
Opening on what used to be the rare sight of an empty London street, but isn’t all that revolutionary anymore, ‘Locked Down’ kicks off with a zoom call between Paxton and his half-brother followed by dreary zoom call after zoom call, in which any attempt at humour falls flat (well, other than, and one has to give credit where it’s due, an exchange with Ben Kingsley in which he describes having never heard of the poet Edgar Allan Poe).
‘Locked Down’ itself, incidentally, feels like a very long zoom call with someone you don’t know well. It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, and you’re counting down the minutes until it ends.
The film clocks in at almost 2 hours by the way and basically nothing happens. Talented as Ejiofor and Hathaway are, and they do share good chemistry, they can’t infuse their characters with any warmth or likeability. They’re just unpleasant people, made more intolerable by the pressures of lockdown, which is at least realistic and relatable. They feel broken and have turned to drinking, smoking and taking opium to fill up the dreary hours of this new life.
Sharp a writer as Knight can be, his dialogue here is inescapably dull. The characters talk much without saying anything. You can’t shake the staged, inorganic feel of the movie, with its odd contemporary references such as the BBC report that was interrupted by the kids, or toilet paper hoarding. The cast can’t inject this script with any life and the recurring zoom format really drags the feature out. Top that off with a final act where the couple are humming and hawing as to whether to actually go through with the heist or not, which, again, seriously drags, and what you’re left with is just a really poor movie.
Rent 'Locked Down' from home from Thursday, 11 March.