Thursday, January 14, 2021

Locked Down


Couple Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are way past their honeymoon stage and are ready to go their separate ways, except that they can’t because of the current lockdowns imposed in London. The two are forced to cohabitate despite their newfound animosity for one another. She is the CEO of Miracore in the United Kingdom and has just been asked to fire her entire team due to redundancy. He has been recently furloughed due to the pandemic but is being asked to report to work again due to manpower shortage. Prompted by the current circumstances, the two are forced to reevaluate their lives. She is tasked to retrieve a £3 Million diamond at display at Harrods and it so happens that he is the assigned van driver from the freight company handling its transport. With protocols breached and security less stringent because of the pandemic, they realize that their chances of stealing the diamond and getting away with it is much higher than they actually thought.

As a heist movie, Locked Down in underwhelming because the screenplay does not really allow for complicated planning and teamwork a la Ocean’s 8, in which Hathaway also starred. Instead, what you get is a script that relies too much on luck and coincidences. It does not exert that much effort for you to believe in it, as if asking you to just appreciate the attempt for coming up with a film given the current challenges one has to face while filming. As such, you get a lot of shaky and choppy video calls in lieu of actual interactions, which really reflect what the world has come to nowadays.

As mentioned, Hathaway has already starred in a heist movie just a few years ago. While seeing her onscreen is always a pleasure, it seems rather repetitive as far as her filmography is concerned. Even then, her portrayal of a “successful” career woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown because she can no longer find any meaning in what she is doing is just so relatable. In effect, she is just embodying every other John and Jane Doe out there who has been forced to rethink his/her life because of this pandemic.

Ejiofor is a little off, or perhaps it is just the way his character is written? Chemistry with Hathaway is nowhere to be found, and Paxton’s main struggle is basically similar to that of Linda, except maybe for the my-partner-is-more-successful-than-me subplot, which they do not even get to explore that much. In any case, we do acknowledge the importance of his character to demonstrate how being in lockdown with someone can be a game changer in relationships.

With most of the scenes playing out in a London apartment and focusing primarily on just two people, the setup kind of mirrors what most of us are experiencing to date because of these lockdown restrictions. Perhaps Doug Liman just opted for a half-baked heist narrative for thrills, which does not translate that well onscreen, but we can argue that he does succeed in capturing the zeitgeist of working from home and pushing life’s pause button because we don’t have much of a choice. Simply put, Paxton and Linda are all of us trying to navigate this new status quo with our sanity intact.

But then again, we are not trying to rob Harrods. That aspect of the storyline falls flat and is full of tropes that make everything so predictable. The happy ending is either wishful thinking or lazy writing, but they do make it a point to slap both characters in the face, and effectively you the viewer as well, with that big question: Lockdown has been extended for another two weeks, NOW WHAT? I’d give this film extra points for the reiteration of that epiphany, that in this current global dilemma we are facing, money cannot really help you that much as much as your mental health can. Tough times.

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