Considering we're still deep in a pandemic with no obvious end in sight, I'm not sure when (or if) I'll ever be clamoring for narratives about the pandemic. There have been a few features inspired by our current reality, including the Zoom-set supernatural horror film Host and the Michael Bay production Songbird, which imagined a COVID-fueled dystopia. And now there's Locked Down, shot quickly during the pandemic in the abandoned streets of London.
But if my desire for pandemic stories is minimal, then my desire for pandemic stories centered on rich people is pretty much nonexistent, and Locked Down sort of hedges its bets by trapping us in a beautiful, spacious townhouse with a well-off couple who are miserable together.
Linda (Anne Hathaway) works for a high-end fashion company, while her partner, Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor), relies on under-the-table driving jobs because a crime in his past has made him unemployable. The film is set in mid-March, right as the U.K. is preparing to shut down for a couple weeks, and right as Linda and Paxton's relationship is beginning to fizzle. They're living under the same roof now, but once everything is back to normal, they'll go their separate ways.
Of course, the lockdown goes on longer than anyone expects, and that's when the movie reveals its true intentions. Paxton has been hired to transport millions of dollars worth of valuables from the upscale department store Harrods, and Linda, suddenly jaded by the corporate world, realizes that she not only has an in with the store's security team but knows the location of a diamond that's worth enough to keep her and Paxton financially comfortable.
This actually isn't a bad concept for a film, but it's pulled off all wrong. The heist plot (which isn't nearly as watertight as the movie seems to think it is) doesn't kick in until the film is at least half over, and by that time we've been stuck with two characters who are uninteresting at best and straight-up irritating at worst. It's hard to feel any kind of sympathy toward them, particularly Linda, whose biggest moral dilemma involves firing some of her employees and deciding whether or not to accept a promotion. This seems more than a bit callous, particularly when frontline workers and hospital staff have actual problems.
Locked Down was directed by Doug Liman, best known for action spectacles like The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Edge of Tomorrow, and written by Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Locke). I have to give them credit for a pretty gutsy idea — a bittersweet relationship drama that morphs into a heist comedy, with a real-life health crisis as a backdrop — but this movie needed to be either way breezier or way grittier if it was going to work. Even if you have a lot of time on your hands these days, you don't need to spend it with two annoying people in a mediocre movie. ♦
Directed by Doug Liman
Starring Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Streaming on HBO Max