19 April 2024

Film Review – Locked Down (2021)

This year, Man. This awful, horrendous, heart-breaking year has taken its toll on everyone across the globe and changed us for, hopefully, the better although if you look through the news stories of the moment outside of the pandemic, it isn’t very pretty. That said, fingers crossed there is an end in sight and some semblance of freedom ahead after months of being surrounded by the “four walls” of our homes.

It has been tough, make no mistake, but out of that uncertainty has stemmed newfound creativity with many artists, filmmakers, and more finding stories amongst the strangeness and utilised the tools at their disposal – in the film world, mostly Zoom – to tell them. Some have done it pretty damn well (see The Host, Language Lessons and Staged), but if they were the shining lights, Locked Down – most ironically – is the crashing thud that goes out of its way to show us not just the awfulness of the situation but also take us on a journey that is by turns ridiculous, mind-numbingly boring and, to top it all, somewhat offensive.

The brain child of writer Steven Knight, who in 2019 brought us the equally-baffling yet strangely entertaining Serenity, and director Doug Liman – he of Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity – before he shoots into outer space with Tom Cruise. He might well wish he and his collaborators could head there now to forget about this and pretend it was a bad dream. Armed with the stellar talents of Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, they collaborate for this misguided attempt to bring something good out of something so bad and none of them – particularly the aforementioned award-winners – will escape its shadow for a while. Yes, it is just that bad.

The titular duo are former lovers who, just before lockdown, had separated but are now unable to leave each other, both still cooped up in their elegant, palatial home (more on that later). Such a set-up would sow the seeds for a reflective, sombre, even touching look at relationships, intimacy, and the power of connection in a time when we don’t have much. But in Knight’s outlandish script, their catharsis is to utilise Hathaway’s position as CEO of a media conglomerate to hatching a plan to steal a diamond worth £3million, thus helping to write off debts, bring them some luck and, maybe, live happily ever after.

Allow us to call bullshit. They see the scheme and the money therein as their ticket out of their issues, to leave behind their troubles – minuscule in comparison to their neighbouring community who Ejiofor regails with poetry every day in one of the film’s better moments – and reconcile. All we can say is how dare they.

For everything so many suffered, this is an almighty kick in the crotch, followed swiftly by a jab to the face and one to the head. Imagine if everyone thought “Screw this, I’m going to go rob the corner shop because I’m bored” or “Oh, Selfridges is deserted, let’s loot it while no-one is around”. What?! If you want to make a heist movie or a fun Mr. & Mrs. Smith (directed by Liman, FYI) for the 21st century, go ahead: we’d all probably watch but don’t give us something so offensive, stupid, and utterly infuriating. We deserve better, those who made it deserve better.

The industry itself is on its knees and we are well aware people need to work, but art can still thrive in these god-awful times. This isn’t how it’s done, on any level.

Comedy, Crime | USA, 2021 | 15 | Premium VOD | 11th March 2021 (UK) | Warner Bros. Pictures | Dir.Doug Liman | Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anne Hathaway, Dulé Hill, Ben Kingsley, Mark Gatiss, Ben Stiller, Mindy Kaling

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