Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor star as former lovers stuck together in Locked Down (Picture: Warner Bros.)
Look, there’s always going to be mixed feelings about a movie set in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic – especially when we’re still going through at this very moment.
For many the idea of watching people stuck indoors with each other while they themselves are literally unable to flee the nest could be seen as some sort of twisted torture, but somehow Locked Down manages to make it work.
The film follows Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as a longtime couple that split up just before the pandemic began.
Unfortunately for them, they were still living together in their London home when they found themselves in lockdown. As you can imagine, co-habiting in the same house is slowly driving them both to new levels of frustration.
Then – thanks to a bizarre series of events – they soon find themselves working together on an outrageous plan that would certainly bring some good fortune their way – stealing a diamond worth £3 million ($4,069,650) from luxury department store, Harrods.
In many ways, this type of zany heist plot could easily have been made pre-pandemic with the luxury of multiple filming destinations, a bigger cast and all the usual things we took for granted before things shut down.
Hathaway and Ejiofor perfectly capture the frustration of quarantine (Picture: Warner Bros.)
However, the clever script by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Burnt, Allied) manages to use the pandemic as tool to create something that feels fresh and worthy of creation.
He’s no stranger to making a film focused on a small number of characters. In fact, his critically-acclaimed 2013 film Locke was 85 minutes of watching Tom Hardy having phone conversations while driving his car.
Here Knight has far more to work with when it comes to characters and locations as the film manages to open out to as many places as possible outside of the main home.
Zoom calls are used perfectly to highlight relatable struggles (Picture: Warner Bros.)
From bumping into strangers in the garden and having conversations with neighbours from the window to even getting to do the odd bit of work outside. Naturally, most of the interaction with other characters over video chat.
During the first call with his half-brother (Dulé Hill) Ejiofor says it best as he states: ‘We are all locked in this psychological prison of burning aloneness.’
The first part of the film explores that very sentiment as we watch two people with very complicated feelings about each other try as they might to survive being couped up together.
Some of the action actually takes place in Harrods as the pair’s characters attempt a heist (Picture: BACKGRID)
It shouldn’t be funny but the reality of so many situations we watch play out on the screen naturally raises a chuckle from the viewers. Especially thanks to the captivating performances from the lead actors.
Awkward zoom calls, check. Queuing outside the supermarket only to see people have been buying all the toilet roll for no reason, check. Even more annoying zoom calls, check and check.
Masks feature in the film but it’s not as triggering as one might expect (Picture: BACKGRID)
Hathaway and Ejiofor are joined by the likes of Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, and Mark Gatiss during their zoom calls but the funniest appearances come in the form of Ben Kingsley as Paxton’s questionable boss and Ben Stiller as Linda’s condescending CEO.
Director Doug Liman (Mr and Mrs Smith, The Bourne Identity) is just the man for the job as he manages to transition the film from a locked dramedy to thrilling heist movie.
Suddenly the film swerves from Marriage Story to Ocean’s Eleven, with the viewers just as exhilarated by the action moving to Harrods as the characters.
With a running time of just under two hours, the film could be a bit shorter but that doesn’t stop it from being an interesting ride with a fun payoff.
This isn’t an exploitative film that has been made just to capitalize on what the world is going through, rather it’s exploring how we’ve all been forced to make the most of such an unprecedented situation.
It’s nice to think that somewhere in the world, the pandemic has given some people the chance to take their life in a direction that frees them from the trap they had felt stuck in before Covid-19… without the illegal activity, of course.
Locked Down is set for release on HBO Max on January 14 in the US.