Locked Down will be the first of many pandemic-based films and TV shows to come in 2021. The film came to be when Steven Knight wrote the screenplay over a dare, which he completed by July 2020. This led to one of the quickest pitches since filming took place over the course of 18 days. As it turns out, this rushed attitude is what defines the movie for better or worse.
The biggest issue Locked Down has is in its script. Although it has a nearly two-hour runtime, it spends half of that time focusing on plot points that barely connect with each other. While it hints towards a heist in the early sections, it takes a while before it gets to that point. And when it’s not about crimes in the making, it’s a light romantic comedy between the main characters Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Thankfully, they’re onscreen together most of the time, so the film is a decent story overall about what we in the world take for granted. The screenplay is entirely way too verbose and could have used another review or three. But in a time of monotonous life, Locked Down‘s best quality is its spontaneity.
Linda and Paxton overcome their differences to try and take some of their life back. During that journey, you have some idea of what might occur, because they’re living life in quarantine. Obviously, our quarantine doesn’t include Hathaway and Ejiofor. But they tackle some very real issues that have come up during quarantine for everyone. Realizing a relationship doesn’t quite work, getting furloughed, getting fired, stress, and anxiety are some things all of us have faced over the past year. And Locked Down touches them in the right way so it’s not in your face.
In a film about the pandemic starting up, I would think they would have taken the Harrods scenes a little more differently. A comment made in this rom-com/heist film is “you’ll be wearing a mask, and gloves, it’s a perfect opportunity”. Yet when they get to Harrods, most of the people aren’t wearing masks and gloves. Feels contradictory to the overall portrayal Hollywood has tried to present to the everyday consumer about being safe during the pandemic right now. Maybe take it as a beginning of the pandemic take, but still.
Overall, Locked Down is a decent film. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible by any means. It could have used a clean up run on the screenplay, but it’s full of spontaneity in an 18 day filming window, and restructuring that could have cost it a ton. – Katie Rentschler
Locked Down is streaming now on HBO Max.