Directed by: Doug Liman
Premise: A couple (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway) lives in London under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. Facing the end of their relationship, they consider stealing a valuable diamond.
What Works: The first half of Locked Down is a vivid domestic drama. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway play a couple whose long term relationship has plateaued. Their careers are going in opposite directions. Ejiofor’s character has been furloughed and due to a past criminal conviction he has few employment prospects while Hathaway’s character is a professional whose star is rising but she despises her work. Most of the first portion of Locked Down is limited to the couple’s home where they live and work and the film captures the inertia of life during quarantine. Ejiofor and Hathaway are at their best here, alternately comic and dramatic, and they are convincing as a couple who have been together for a long time and whose relationship has withered by the ennui of domesticity. It’s explained that they were wild and loose in their younger days but getting civilized has drained the color from their lives and lockdown has forced the couple to confront the emptiness and dissatisfaction of their relationship. Their despair is multifaceted and palpable but so is the hope that they might reclaim their lives by breaking up.
What Doesn’t: Locked Down goes awry as it becomes a heist movie. The filmmakers concoct a scenario in which Ejiofor and Hathaway’s characters scheme to steal a valuable diamond which, when sold on the black market, will fund their futures. It’s a simplistic Hollywood solution to the complex and realistic problems established in the first half of the movie. The caper feels disconnected from the first half of the picture. It’s not convincing that the heist will actually solve their problems and it cheapens the emotional and existential issues at the heart of the film. Locked Down is not a very good heist drama. It’s not credible. The average public library has more security in place than the institution housing the diamond and the couple’s plan to boost it is not exciting. The credibility problems extend to the portrait of life in a pandemic. During the heist sequence many people are not wearing masks or socially distancing despite the fact that Locked Down was produced in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
DVD extras: Currently available on HBO Max.
Bottom Line: Locked Down starts well as a complex relationship drama featuring strong performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway. But the filmmakers lose their way with a shoehorned heist plot that cheapens the drama.
Episode: #844 (March 21, 2021)