Locked Down review: Delirious enough to capture the mood of the moment

Even if the film is rushed in its execution, it’s so undeniably of the moment that it feels worthy of future study

Clarisse Loughrey
Friday 12 March 2021 06:31
Comments
Locked Down trailer

Dir: Doug Liman. Starring: Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Mark Gatiss. 15 cert, 118 mins

On paper, Locked Down looked like a pleasant diversion – a cinematic cream puff delivered at a time when cinematic cream puffs are greatly appreciated. It’s a pandemic-set heist film directed by Doug Liman, of Edge of Tomorrow fame, and starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, two charismatic performers. There are Zoom cameos from Ben Stiller, Mindy Kaling, Ben Kingsley, Claes Bang and Stephen Merchant. It was shot and produced mid-lockdown, in the span of four months, with the crew having the rare opportunity to roam the impeccably glamorous halls of London’s Harrods department store.

The film itself, however, has the opposite effect – it’s far too dry and meandering for an entertaining bit of fluff, but delirious enough to capture the mood of the moment. The heist itself is absurd: Hathaway’s Linda is a strained executive for a high-fashion brand who has a moral awakening when her superiors ask her to sack her entire team while simultaneously dangling a promotion in her face. She’s also been tasked with overseeing the safe transport of a £3m diamond from the vaults of Harrods to its new owners in New York City.

And, by miraculous coincidence, her husband (Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Paxton) is the courier who’s already been hired to do the job – the very husband she’s recently separated from and is still forced to cohabitate with due to lockdown restrictions. There’s a small window in which they could steal the diamond and not be caught. And, because the pandemic has made everyone’s lives strange and ridiculous, they actually treat it as a feasible plan. But this, the actual meat of the story, arrives casually and with little excitement (the actual heist is just two people strolling through an empty department store, with zero scenes of anyone doing flips through a maze of infrared lasers).

At its core, Locked Down is a feature-length acknowledgment that this year has been devastating for romantic relationships. Steven Knight, whose screenplay for Locke left Tom Hardy trapped in a car for an hour and a half, here offers a second dose of intense claustrophobia. Linda and Paxton may live in an enviable, spacious townhouse, but it’s the feeling of social obligation that’s suffocating them – the need to coordinate on groceries, or conduct half-hearted check-ins throughout the day. They’ve been robbed of the ability to sever the tether between them and move on.

Anne Hathaway’s Linda is a strained executive for a high-fashion brand who has a moral awakening

And so the pair start to spiral in recognisable ways. Old vices rear their head. They obsess over the smallest of details – a piece of Christmas tinsel still stuck to the ceiling becomes a salient psychological metaphor. At one point, Linda’s pity party is interrupted by the sound of clapping – it’s the weekly celebration of frontline workers – and so she grabs her pots and pans and starts slamming them together so furiously, it’s like she’s trying to banish a ghost. Knight’s script has a busy, raw quality that’s indicative of how quickly it was produced. It’s dense with monologues and ideas – a little like Malcolm & Marie, which suggests this will soon become the defining feature of pandemic-era films.

There are plenty of dud notes you can imagine Knight would have edited out if he had time on his side, including a particularly unfunny bit about Edgar Allen Poe. But it’s all performed by a cast who can at least mimic conviction, even if they’re still trying to figure out who exactly their characters are. Even if Locked Down is rushed in its execution, it’s so undeniably of the moment that it feels worthy of future study.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in