HBO Max’s ‘Locked Down’ just isn’t the enjoyable COVID caper you are on the lookout for

HBO Max's 'Locked Down' is not the fun COVID caper you're looking for


Picture: Susie ALlnutt / HBO max

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At some point in the past several months, pop culture created during the pandemic about the pandemic went from a cutting-edge novelty to just another fact of life: Of course it’s in all our movies and shows now, as a result of it is in every little thing now. But the strangeness of revisiting the very latest previous hasn’t fully dissipated, at the very least for this reviewer. Watching Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor muddle by way of March 2020 in Locked Down felt like watching somebody — the characters, the actors, the filmmakers, or perhaps myself — battle to pin down one thing attention-grabbing or significant concerning the instances, and by no means fairly getting there.

With a premise that is half rom-com, half heist thriller, and all COVID drama, Locked Down is a bit like if Mr. & Mrs. Smith, additionally from director Doug Liman, have been set in a socially distanced London. And why not? If there’s one factor we have realized over the previous yr, it is that life nonetheless goes on whereas so many people are caught indoors. Plans are nonetheless made, schemes are nonetheless hatched, relationships are nonetheless shaped or damaged. However the components’s not precisely proper. Locked Down delivers an excessive amount of on the drab actuality of its premise and never sufficient on the escapist fantasy.

Locked Down delivers an excessive amount of on the drab actuality of its premise and never sufficient on the escapist fantasy.

For starters, and there is actually no different option to say it, the 2 leads are annoying as hell. Paxton (Ejiofor), a furloughed supply driver, spends his days stewing in restlessness and resentment, often punctuated by look-at-me antics like working into the center of the road to shout poetry at his neighbors. Linda (Hathaway) is a brittle advertising exec who’s been pushed up to now previous her breaking level that she’s first launched screaming right into a pillow. After a decade collectively, they’ve determined to interrupt up, solely to search out themselves pressured to stay in the identical tastefully appointed townhouse due to COVID restrictions. 

In order that they alternate between bickering with one another, attempting to disregard one another, and bickering about attempting to disregard one another. Each are liable to lavish theatrical monologues (scripted by Steven Knight of Locke and Peaky Blinders) that may work within the context of, you realize, an precise theater, however come off as overwritten performed out over realistically glitchy Zooms and messy bedrooms. There is not any element too small to unleash a flash flood of emotion — on this film, not even a chunk of tinsel will get to thoughts its personal enterprise with out changing into the centerpiece of a speech about change or management or the constraints of remedy. Ejiofor and Hathaway pour themselves into every one, just like the professionals they’re, however watching them complain emphatically at one another isn’t any enjoyable, even when, or particularly if, we acknowledge in them our personal anxious selves from the beginning of the pandemic. 

Raiding the food court of an empty department store does look fun, though.

Raiding the meals court docket of an empty division retailer does look enjoyable, although.

Picture: Susie Allnutt / HBO max

The wordiness higher fits the ultimate third of the film, at which level it veers from a relationship dramedy (the “-medy” half is essentially equipped by comedian cameos from the likes of Mindy Kaling, Stephen Service provider, and Ben Stiller, although even their skills appear subdued right here) to a heist flick. At the very least the empty halls of Harrods, the luxurious division retailer the place the crime is to happen, function a extra grandiose stage for all of Paxton and Linda’s verbose outbursts of emotion, and it comes as a reduction to not be caught in such claustrophobic shut quarters with them anymore. Sadly, Locked Down isn’t any nice shakes as a heist flick, both. It lacks the cleverness and the playfulness of an Ocean’s Eleven — or, for that matter, an Ocean’s 8, Hathaway’s different latest movie about jewel thieves. Linda comes up with a plan, after which they perform that plan, and it really works or it does not, after which we’re on the finish of the story. 

So what we’re left with, afterward, is an oddity of a movie that is attempting to function on a number of ranges, and never fairly clicking on any of them. It is a comedy that is not particularly humorous, and a drama that is not particularly deep, and a thriller that is not particularly thrilling. Its central relationship is neither candy nor attractive. Hathaway and Ejiofor have the exhausting chemistry of two individuals who deserve one another as a result of they’re each unbearable in type of the identical approach, which isn’t the identical factor as having the type of romantic spark that makes one root for them to be collectively, or the type of fiery sizzle that makes them enjoyable to observe sparring with one another.

As for that hooky pandemic backdrop, it provides Locked Down the sheen of relevance with out including a lot depth. Close to the top of the film, a personality laments that “even earlier than the fucking virus, we have been all locked down in our routines,” placing in bald phrases what appears to be the movie’s bigger theme — that the pandemic has pressured us to rethink who we’re, and to reexamine the priorities and views we have constructed our lives round. Yeah, and? We all know that. We have lived it. What’s your level? I suppose it is a landmark in itself that we have reached the purpose in our pandemic artwork deluge that references to the pandemic may elicit not tears or winces, however shrugs.

Locked Down is now streaming on HBO Max.

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