Director Doug Liman’s Locked Down is a romantic comedy where you hope the couple breaks up, and a heist-thriller so contrived and lacking in tension (and intelligence and excitement), you hope everyone gets caught.
Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) were a loving and adventurous couple for ten years. Then, just after they decided to break up, the coronavirus hit London. Now they’re locked down together.
Then, after 90 minutes of awful “relationship” dialogue and a dreadful performance from Ms. Hathaway, a whole bunch of coincidences lead them to steal a diamond worth three-million pounds from Harrods Department Store.
The only redeeming feature in Locked Down is Ejiofor, whose easygoing charm and natural warmth never waver. You feel for the guy, a victim of bad breaks who’s turning 40 and forced to sell the very thing — a motorcycle — that allowed him to live out his “live wild or die” ethos. In fact, Ejiofor’s Paxton is so likable, it is hard to believe his character would hook up with a neurotic, humorless shrew such as Linda.
You don’t want these two to find a way to be together. Instead, you want him to come to his senses. To put her over his knee, give her the spanking she deserves, storm out the door, and jump on his motorcycle for a ride to whatever’s next.
I can’t even begin to address how awful Hathaway is here, which is not her fault. She’s a fine actress let down by a director — unless of course Liman wanted Linda to be a smug, brittle, and not-very-bright drama queen.
What’s more, what are they complaining about? They live in a gorgeous house with a garden. They have every convenience known to man. They have enough money he’s ordering out for a sandwich… Yeah, being locked down sucks (it’s also anti-science and unnecessary), but we’re all locked down. All of us. And Liman wants us to pity these two privileged jerks.
Talk about out of touch.
Oh, and naturally, Steven Knight’s dreadful script hits all the lockdown tropes: Zoom, Skype, bread baking (which I believe is an elitist trope), watching too much news, drinking too much wine, wearing pajamas all day, falling off the wagon into bad habits (cigarettes, opium). Missing, of course, is what everyday people are experiencing… home schooling, losing your business, running out of money, being blacklisted for daring to tell the truth about these anti-science lockdowns.
Not once does Mr. Live Wild or Die say anything like, Why am I not allowed to make my own choices and take my own risks? How does my refusal to social distance and not wear a mask affect those who choose to social distance and wear masks?
The first 90 minutes are excruciating. Nails on a chalkboard. This is one of those movies you shut off after 15 minutes (if you’re not reviewing it).
Anyway, so we’re promised a heist; promised we’re eventually going to be rescued by some Ocean’s 11 action.
Don’t you believe it.
There is not one clever moment throughout the 30 minute heist. Not one. Everything that makes it possible comes by way of coincidences so contrived they feel like a personal attack on your intelligence. Get this…
It just so happens that his job is to transfer the diamond. It just so happens that her job is to give the diamond to him. It just so happens there’s a perfect fake on hand that can be switched. It just so happens she once worked at Harrods. It just so happens that the buyer will never look at the diamond. It just so happens that although Linda and Paxton were together ten freakin’ years, no one she worked with at Harrods recognizes Paxton. It just so happens that the guy Paxton went to prison for more than ten years ago is a diamond fence.
Oh, and Linda and Paxton aren’t bad people because-because-because they’re going to give a third of their stolen three million pounds to the National Health Service, which, based on NHS budget, is like giving a billionaire a dime.
There are a bunch of star cameos, but only Ben Kingsley and the spin he puts on his Sexy Beast character stands out. Well, I guess Ben Stiller’s gray hair also stands out. I didn’t recognize the other “stars.” Maybe they’re stars because of Twitter, or something.
Nothing about this movie is believable. From big things such as Hathaway and Ejiofor having no chemistry and no sense of lived-in history, to the cleanliness of their house… Actually I’d like to focus on that a bit. The house is gleaming clean. Spotless. No clutter. Gorgeous. But a major plot point revolves around a piece of tinsel left up from Christmas. Who’s cleaning this house? How did whoever is keeping this house so clean miss the tinsel? You see what I’m getting at here? It’s just stupid. And this is coming from a guy who loves to suspend disbelief, and who is happy to put his average to below-average intelligence on hold in the service of a good story.
And then there’s the occasional rotten fish tossed at the woke seals, the stagy overacting…
You want to know what this movie made me appreciate? Woody Allen. God bless Woody Allen, who makes relationship comedy/dramas, heist films, and thrillers look easy. He’s made 50 of these types of movies and his worst one is head-and-shoulders above this stinker. Oh, and he does it in 92 minutes instead of 118 minutes.
Locked Down premiered this week on HBO Max.