Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor star in the 2021 romantic comedy heist Locked Down, currently streaming on HBO Max. The film is directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) with a screenplay from Steven Knight (Locke). The film has a strong cast apart from the leads. It stars Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Mark Gatiss, Claes Bang with Ben Stiller, and Ben Kingsley. The plot of the film follows a couple whose marriage is falling apart. They also live in a world that’s struck by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. Linda (Hathaway) and Paxton (Ejiofor) are a married couple who are about to call it quits before the lockdown. Paxton has a criminal record, due to which his aspirations are hampered. He finally lands a gig to deliver an extremely valuable jewel. The couple decides to come together and pull off a dangerous heist.
Filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Locked Down was acquired by HBO Max. It was eventually released on the streaming platform on January 14, 2021. The film has received generally negative reviews. Despite having a tremendous cast, the film fails to entertain. Going into the movie, you’d be most likely be excited by the prospect of a talented and promising cast. But the lackluster direction and a drab screenplay fail to justify the talent present in the frames. The film is ultimately a disappointment because it doesn’t live up to the expectations. And it only becomes worse when you look at the credits for directing and writing. Liman at the helm of directing and Knight at the helm of writing have made shoddy attempts at their job.
Locked Down — Plot Details and Synopsis
Locked Down starts with a couple on the verge of calling it quits. Linda and Paxton are going through a rough patch in their marriage. And this rough patch doesn’t seem to a temporary one. Their eventual breakup is only prolonged by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The couple can’t wait until this dreadful lockdown is over so they can finally break free from this exhausting relationship. Linda is a businesswoman and the bread-earner of the home. She is a CEO of a fashion company. At the same time, Paxton is a sad and frustrated aspirant writer. He can’t get any proper jobs owing to his arrest 10 years ago for assaulting someone in self-defense. He is a well-read man but can only get truck-driving gigs now.
Due to the shutdowns, thanks to the ongoing lockdown, there’s a scarcity of delivery guys. And thus, Paxton gets an opportunity to deliver a valuable asset. His boss gives him to carry an extremely valuable delivery which he takes on under a false identity. Meanwhile, Linda is also given the task to have the inventory cleared out at a proximate Harrods department store. Soon, Linda realizes that her and Paxton’s delivery schedules are going to coincide at the department store. They both notice the coincidence and decide to cash in on it.
Pulling off the Heist
The couple decides to bury their differences and pull off a risky heist. Linda goes on to explain the content of the delivery Paxton is about to make. She works at a company that supervises over a £3 million diamond. The diamond that’s kept in the vault at Harrods has been sold off to an anonymous buyer. She also tells him that a replica of that diamond is kept at the store. They both conspire and construct a scheme to steal the diamond. Their plan involves keeping the real diamond for themselves and selling the fake one to a buyer in New York. After the successful completion of this heist, they intend to go their separate ways.
And so they begin their heist. They manage to successfully replace the real diamond with the fake one. However, they get confronted by Donald — Linda’s former co-worker that she was told to fire a few days ago. It turns out that Donald had already come to know about Paxton’s fake identity. Consequently, he had called the police, but when Linda shares their plan with him, he agrees to become an accomplice. Becoming a partner-in-crime, Donald lies to the police about the call. After the successful heist, Paxton and Linda decide to give their relationship another chance. As the couple who was at the brink of a breakup re-evaluates their life, the lockdown is extended by two more weeks.
Locked Down Bores As the Actors Try Their Best to Elevate the Material
Locked Down is an immensely boring film that doesn’t live up to the expectations one would have going into it. The trailer of the film is actually way better than the film itself. It hints at a promising lockdown film with all the charm of the lead actors. Alas! It fails to deliver even a big on those expectations and potential. On the paper, the pitch for the film is sure to arouse excitement and anticipation. But it would have been better had it never left that pitching stage. The film is set during the current coronavirus pandemic that has still not left us. There are a lot of monologues talking about how boring the lockdown is. With the level of emphasis on the boredom part, the film seems to be an ironic meta-commentary in itself because this film will BORE you!
The lead actors Ann Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor try their best at redeeming the film. But even their charm can’t elevate this film. Hathaway and Ejiofor both are some of the best actors working today, and they are absolutely wasted here. The great amount of charm they bring to the table does little to make the extensively boring screenplay better. Also, the backstory to Ejiofor’s Paxton is straight-up ridiculous. The screenplay is unnecessarily serious and pretentious for a comedic romance caper. The monologues are insufferable, and other plot points like zoom meetings as well. But it’s not only Hathaway and Ejiofor whose talents are wasted here. The film also has a strong cast of supporting characters, with Ben Stiller and Ben Kingsley dropping cameos. But — you can guess where this is going — they can’t make it work either.
A Shoddy Script, A Poor Heist, and Jokes That Don’t Land
There are several failed attempts at humor throughout the movie that just don’t work. The jokes about zoom meetings being boring and awkward is already outdated. It could be done way more creatively than to just nudge at the audience with the relatable cringe. It’s all just so lame and unfunny. Plus, the whole thing being so vain and shallows doesn’t help either. I couldn’t care less how two privileged humans living in an affluent adobe. The suffering of great boredom the characters go through is reminiscent of the video collage the real-world celebrities made at the start of the pandemic. It has all the ignorant, oblivious, and privileged smell of that abomination cover of the song Imagine. The heist that takes place later is riddled with plot-holes. It doesn’t make sense, and it wouldn’t have been a problem if it wasn’t a major plot point.
It’s alright if the focus of the movie was on romance and comedy. But when the film lacks this heavily on those two departments, you’d expect something from the heist. But it fails to inspire any sort of thrill action you’d expect from a heist, even in a comedy movie. Steven Knight isn’t able to craft a screenplay that would complement the star power or the charm. Doug Liman, who has directed the great and underrated Edge of Tomorrow, also fails to do anything creative. The direction is pretty sub-par, which, if it was a bit more ingenuine, could’ve redeemed the movie at least a bit. It all just feels like a hastily and unnecessarily made film.
With a poor screenplay, uninspired direction, and bad comedy, Locked Down doesn’t justify its production amidst the pandemic. It fails to live up to expectations, and the disappointment is made worse by the wasted potential of a charming star cast.
We rate Locked Down a 1 out of 5.
Watch the trailer here;
Locked Down is currently streaming on HBO Max.