Released: 14th January
Seen: 5th November
Covid has had an interesting effect on the world of cinema, not only have people had to postpone some pretty major films or change how they film them but some have decided that they’re going to use this hellish time as inspiration. This has led to some genuinely incredible films like Host but it’s also led to absolute drek like Songbird. One of the films that I remember being advertised very early on in this pandemic was a little comedy heist film called Locked Down and the memory was that the trailer promised a good time… the trailer lied, this film is shit and I’m going to complain about its shitness.
Locked Down focuses on the boring Linda (Anne Hathaway) and pretentious Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who were in a relationship but broke up at some point during lockdown because they realised they hate each other which is a feeling that’s easy for the audience to understand because after 2 hours watching their ‘antics’ you’ll hate them too. Linda and Paxton are both lucky enough to actually have jobs during lockdown, Anne working as the CEO of a fashion company and Paxton working as a delivery driver so they aren’t about to be thrown on the street or anything like that… and even still, for some reason, they decide to steal a diamond that’s held in the vault at Harrods bank that has a value of three million pounds.
For such an idea to work, it would help if the two protagonists were in some way likeable characters who we could root for. This should be easy considering both actors are adept at playing charming characters who will win you over no matter what… both actors have been handed garbage humans to portray, making it impossible to care about either of them. They’re not charming, funny, interesting or even in that desperate a position in life, they live in a pretty nice looking multi-storey home in London and don’t look like they’re missing out on any of the finer things in life. They have no reason to plan a heist beyond boredom and that’s just not compelling.
So if the characters aren’t interesting, maybe Locked Down makes up for that by creating an interesting heist. After all, we’ve all seen a big heist movie before, it’s usually an elaborate plan that takes over a half hour to fully witness being done and involves disguises and quick thinking and why am I bothering to pretend, this heist is about as exciting as going to buy a Quarter Pounder from the drive through at McDonalds and exactly that level of difficulty. There is no real worry anything’s going to go wrong, everyone’s either stupid or complicit and the two main characters don’t even try to hide what they’re doing. For crying out loud, Paxton uses the fake name Edgar Allen Poe and no one calls him on it… that’s meant to be a joke but it’s just bad writing.
Maybe this could work if Locked Down was in any way well shot, but it’s not. Half of the cast only turns up on literal Zoom calls with below consumer grade cameras that honestly look like the people making this are using technology from 1997. When we’re not watching boring Zoom calls (and Host proved that you can make a Zoom call visually exciting so there’s no excuse here) it’s boring shots from boring angles that do nothing to improve the text. Sure they were filming this during lockdown and trying to make it work as they went along but would it kill you to maybe do one interesting shot worth remembering? Was it just too hard to make an effort and be an actual film with stakes?
There’s the rub of all this, Locked Down has no stakes. The couple in question are fine, the only reason to do this heist is because the diamond is going to be sold to “A bad person” who is never named and the amount of money they could get isn’t even worth the risk. It’s a three million pound diamond, one million for each of the main characters and the third million for the NHS. Couldn’t make it 30 million? Give a number that looks like it’d be higher than the sale value of the house the two characters are currently living in otherwise it just feels stupid.
Locked Down in general just feels stupid, it’s somehow padded as all hell while also being underbaked. They throw in a ton of characters and scenes that go nowhere and are just padding the time (or because they could get Ben Stiller on a Zoom call to ad lib for 20 minutes and aren’t stupid enough to let that opportunity go to waste) while also ignoring the central story to the point that the actual ‘heist’ is maybe 15 minutes long and so comically anti-climactic that it hurts.
Locked Down is bad, it’s painfully bad. An unfunny, uninteresting turd of a film that wastes the fantastic talent they hired and the brilliant idea that they had because no one could be bothered to try. Even with a great cast and idea, you have to still try to make things somewhat interesting but Locked Down is too good for that, it’s a pretentious boring asshole of a film that wouldn’t know a joke it one kicked it in the nuts and wouldn’t know how to film a decent heist scene if you handed it detailed instructions and offered to do half the work for it. Locked Down is a cinematic assault and the people who allowed it to happen deserve to be locked up!