Movie Review: Locked Down
Actors are able to portray many things. Sometimes, realism is not one of them.
Shot over the final third of last year, Zoom calls play a large role in the HBO Max rom-com heist film Locked Down.
But it is soon clear that video call acting is yet to be part of the acting curriculum.
The calls, some featuring the likes of Ben Stiller and Mindy Kaling, are mostly strained, verbose and feel like audition tapes.
Sir Ben Kingsley is the exception – seemingly channelling his Don Logan character from Sexy Beast – but still sounding more like a real call.
Frankly, the first half of Locked Down is excruciating.
We are in the London home of Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Linda (Anne Hathaway), a couple whose separation has been scuppered by being locked down in the same house amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Because we're barely introduced to the couple before sniping starts, the viewer will feel trapped.
If you’ve ever been in someone’s home when an argument breaks out – and seriously wondered if a swift exit via the window is an option – then that sums up how you will feel in the first half.
We are clearly meant to find them interesting, but with bouts of "ACT-ING", they are self- involved, unsympathetic and you would not want to be stuck in a room with either of them.
The divide between interesting and selfish is best illustrated when Paxton goes into the street to shout out some late-night poetry.
One can't help but feel this receives a far less sweary response than it would in real life.
In places, Locked Down desperately wants to be Marriage Story, but forgets a key ingredient – we were allowed to like that couple, we were introduced to their good sides before the acrimony started and wanted them to stay together.
Here, you’re willing a split to happen in the hope the film will end sooner.
So while it’s admirable to mobilise a shoot during a real-life lockdown, more could have been made of the situation instead of presenting situations we're all aware of.
One bit of pandemic humour that does hit is Paxton seeing someone panic buying toilet roll, and asking: “How many a**** do you have?”
But it's a rare laugh for a film labelled as a comedy.
The only way it captures the pandemic experience is in slowing time – be amazed when you realise only 20 minutes have passed.
It is all surprising, considering Locked Down is directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr & Mrs Smith, Edge Of Tomorrow).
There is over an hour of interminable soul(less)-searching before the film suddenly remembers there is a diamond heist to pull off.
This caper section, filmed in the actual Harrods department store and its private tunnels – only made accessible due to the real-life lockdown – is more entertaining than the first half, but so incongruous it's almost as though they got bored of trying to make the pandemic version of Marriage Story and decided to finally have some fun instead.
There could be an experiment to be tried with Locked Down. Watch from halfway in and see if it still makes sense. It could be more entertaining.
FILM: Locked Down (M18)
STARRING: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anne Hathaway, Ben Stiller, Stephen Merchant, Mark Gatiss
DIRECTOR: Doug Liman
THE SKINNY: Furloughed Paxton (Ejiofor) and high-flying Linda (Hathaway) are in the process of breaking up when the Covid-19 lockdown in London keeps them in the same house. Disillusioned with her job, she hits upon an idea to make millions at the expense of her bosses.
SHOWING: Premieres Jan 14 on HBO Go