Locked Down

Locked Down ⭐️

Director: Doug Liman. Cast Anne HathawayChiwetel EjioforLucy Boynton, Ben Stiller, Ben Kingsley, Dulé Hill, Stephen Merchant

It had to happen: this is not the first and it certainly won’t be the last film which will use the  Covid-lockdown (well… one of them) as the background and set up for some sort of story. We’ve had “Host” last year, Songbird (The Michael Bay’s film which nobody saw back in December 2019) and now this one. 

All the trademarks for a pandemic-based film are there. Things which by now we all know too well and are actually so close to home that not even a year later are already beginning to feel tired tropes: the zoom calls, the masks, the delivery man at the door bringing food, the empty streets, the lines outside shops, the annoying guy buying lots of toilet paper (“How many asses have you got?” He’s asked in the film), the constant news in the background telling us about how bad the situation is… but mostly people going pretty crazy as they are stuck at home for weeks and weeks on end, slowly losing any hope that we are ever going back to some sort of normality. Feels familiar? We’ve all lived it through (in fact we are still living it). And we’ve all seen way too many memes on the internet about most of this stuff. There’s hardly anything new or fresh to say or to see. This might have been slightly original months ago, when we were still at the beginning of all this Covid-never-ending nightmare (which is probably when this film was first conceived), but almost a year later since Covid first appeared, this has been all we’ve talked about and to make a film around it feels like re-treading all news and to be honest, I live it all this 24/7. When I watch movie at least I’d love to see something else, unless of course the film had something new and incredible to say… which this one, certainly does not. 

Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor play Linda and Paxton, a couple who were just about to separate before the lockdown and are now stuck together. 

The film meanders about for the first hour or so going through the motions and all the things I’ve already mentioned above, showing us little sketches of “life” during lockdown as the couple is really breaking down. It mostly it feels like a play (obviously, since it all takes place inside a house) and there is nothing wrong with that per se, except the feeling of being staged and slightly fake goes beyond the settings itself, but spreads though the dialogue which feel clunky and slightly forced.

Not even potentially good actors like  Hathaway and Ejiofor can make those clunky lines feel quite quite real… I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were both “acting” all the way through, both on different registers, looking slightly uncomfortable, not quite knowing whether they’re in a comedy, a parody or a drama (A feeling that certainly the audience will be sharing too). Also crucially, I never once believed they the two had been together for 10 years.  

Then all of a sudden at around 40 minutes from the end, unbelievably the film takes a HUGE left turn and becomes a “heist movie”… some sort of “Ocean’s Eleven”… or actually “Ocean’s 12”, since this is probably just as bad and silly as that sequel. It really feels like a different film, not just because we leave the confinements of the house, but also there’s a complete tonal shift as it becomes almost a bad parody of a heist film. 

Yes, it is still watchable, if anything for the many cameos from various people like Ben Kingsley, Stephen Merchant, Ben Stiller, Dulé Hill (yes, from Charlie from the West Wing!), all of them too not quite sure what kind of film this is. It does also pick up pace after the interminable first (mostly pointless) hour and there is also a certain pleasure in seeing how they somehow managed to film the sequences in Harrods during the London lockdown in those last 30 minutes of the film. But make no mistakes: if this is a comedy, it’s not funny and if it’s a heist movie, then what its that first hour all about?! It is an extremely badly paced, shoddily written and crucially a very boring and utterly silly film.

It comes out on the 13th of January in the US and in March in the UK. Give it a try if you dare and then come back and tell me.

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