‘Locked Down‘ is an HBO Max original comedy film directed by Doug Liman and written by Steven Knight. It was made by Warner Bros. Pictures in their surge of streaming films to come out in 2021.
Linda (Anne Hathaway) is the CEO of a fashion company is living in London during the Covid lockdown with her furloughed boyfriend Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) with whom she wanted to break up. They both speak with their friends in New York, Paxton’s half-brother David (Dulé Hill) and his wife Maria (Jazmyn Simon) about how they are going stir crazy. Paxton’s boss Malcolm (Ben Kingsley) calls to tell him he wants him to do deliveries for his company, but must under the guise of “Edgar Allen Poe” since he has a criminal record. Meanwhile, Linda is forced to lay-off several of her friends by her boss Solomon (Ben Stiller) and secure a rare diamond’s transportation to its new owner, a brutal dictator. Since it is a company she used to work for, Linda proposes a plan with David to use his credentials to sneak into the facility under the lockdown measures in order to swap the diamond out with a fake. At first hesitant, the couple decides to put their differences aside and go ahead with the heist.
I have watched movies that were boring, but not tone deaf. I have watched tone deaf movies that have held my attention. This alleged comedy somehow manages to be both tone deaf and boring at the same time. It is a rare balancing act and if that is what the filmmakers were going for, then they nailed it.
To be clear, Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor are good actors, but in this film, they did not put up their best. Hathaway’s performance is incredibly dry, dull, and nigh impossible to have empathy for. Ejiofor comes off as frantic and flighty with no sense of direction. Sure, we can blame the writers, but I have seen soap opera actors put more effort into their roles.
As for the plot in general, they present you with not a single likable person. Linda is an already rich girl who whines about being rich and who proceeds to steal a diamond, with some throwaway line about how terrible the owner is, to get richer. You do not once feel sorry for her as she constantly complains about how terrible she has it when she is clearly in far better circumstances than anyone below her economic line.
The same is true for our Paxton. He is aloof, elitist, and while he is clearly meant to be the “lower class” bloke in the film, comes off more as liberal art major from an ivy league school who thinks he is poor because mommy and daddy cut his credit card. Yes, they try to drop in hints into his backstory, but it all comes off as rushed and shallow with the hopes that you are fooled by their not-so-clever writing.
So what makes it tone deaf? The incredible elitism of the characters. Linda sends out Paxton to get her cigarettes while the rest of London is on lockdown and scraping for necessities. She has to smoke, you see. Because it makes her feel better about herself that she got a free trip to Paris and laughs when a guy makes a toast about corruption. So, yeah, smoking is good because it alieves Linda’s guilt. Meanwhile, in some Canadian providences, you cannot buy socks because they are “nonessential.” If you already did not like her because of her “woe is me” act, you really did not like her after that.
When Paxton is given the fake name “Edgar Allan Poe” by his boss, he thinks most folks will recognize it and is aghast when no one knows the name of the famous poet. Okay, wow, someone may not click that Edgar Allan Poe wrote “The Raven.” Sorry for not remembering during a lockdown. You know, I once met a man named James Bond. That was literally his name. I made one joke about it and never brought it up again. Why? Because I am a normal person who knows folks are sometimes named after famous people. This was clearly the filmmakers mocking the audience. Also, they kept making a big deal of it. Paxton could have gone by Edgar Poe, Allan Poe, Ed, or anything. It is literally three names. I am sure the original Mr. Poe would not have minded.
Bottom line, Locked Down is a boring, obtuse film that wants to lecture you, condescend to you, and treat you like an idiot. Entertain you? Not so much.
FAVORITE QUOTE: Being locked up is making it worse.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Drug use, Strong foul language, Sexual content
Check out the trailer below:
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