Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor play a pair heading for breakup when the chance for a diamond heist presents itself throughout pandemic lockdown in Doug Liman’s crime comedy.
Maybe there’ll come a time a number of years from now, as soon as the bludgeoning monotony of pandemic confinement has (hopefully) grow to be a fading reminiscence, when the claustrophobic agitation of Doug Liman’s smugly self-satisfied heist thingamajig, Locked Down, could possibly be vaguely amusing. Or not. A lo-fi therapy of a high-concept crime rom-com poor in sexual chemistry, laughs and suspense, it is a grating stunt during which actors who should know higher, led by Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, play synthetically movie-ish characters meant to tickle us with the all-too-real trials of the COVID period. If you happen to nonetheless assume frozen screens and youngsters disrupting Zoom enterprise calls are a hoot, it is all yours.
Maybe what’s most disappointing about this HBO Max Unique is that it is scripted by Steven Knight, who wrote and directed a superb pandemic-compliant, single-setting drama, Locke, seven years forward of schedule in 2013. However Knight is a wildly inconsistent author. For each Soiled Fairly Issues, Jap Guarantees or Peaky Blinders, there is a dud like Allied or Serenity, the latter one other honorable point out on Hathaway’s wall of disgrace. It does not assist that the plot right here, with its holes the dimensions of canyons, has echoes of Ocean’s 8, an pointless franchise extension during which a delectably self-satirizing Hathaway was one of many highlights.
Regardless of his bona fide indie roots with Swingers, Liman has grown accustomed to the perks of the big-budget studio film. So he deserves credit score for making an attempt to carve out some road cred by marshaling a bunch of over-qualified expertise to slum it in a lean undertaking conceived and executed in lockdown, the vast majority of it shot in a London townhouse till the limp heist motion kicks in late within the recreation at Harrods.
There are faint echoes of one of many director’s greatest hits, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, within the thought of a pair whose romantic glow has dimmed, discovering themselves on reverse sides of knowledgeable project. Within the earlier movie they joined forces for survival, right here for legal revenue, in every case predictably saving their relationship.
The massive distinction is that Mr. & Mrs. Smith obtained a lift from the smoldering charisma and chemistry of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, whereas Hathaway and Ejiofor do not stand an opportunity. Their characters are such contrived cutouts — she’s a cool company government, apparently with the soul of an artist; he is a reformed insurgent dealt a tough hand by destiny however guided by the center of a poet — that each overwritten line exposes their phoniness. To not point out some clanging monologues that make you look away from the display screen in embarrassment.
What’s even worse is that the setup is such a concentrated injection of lockdown angst as skilled by these unlikeable, synthetic individuals, the film by no means recovers from its distancing begin. “Now there may be actually zero function to my life,” declares Ejiofor’s Paxton on a Zoom name along with his half-brother David (Dulé Hill) and the latter’s sculptor associate Maria (Jazmyn Simon) in New York. “We’re all locked in a fucking jail of psychological hell chains, the flames of burning aloneness….” Blah, blah, blah.
Hinting on the rupture of his relationship with Linda (Hathaway), he reveals that she’s someplace in the home, whereas persevering with to rant about his bitterness, anger and the buddies with whom he is fallen out over COVID conspiracy theories. That is all earlier than Linda finds him within the storage on the beloved bike he is been compelled to promote, with an exhaust hose hooked up, claiming he was about to take a mock-suicide selfie, “an amusing expression of despair.” Having enjoyable but?
Regardless of being furloughed, depressing Paxton will get a name from his boss at a van supply service, Malcolm — performed by Ben Kingsley, rehashing his elevated East Finish vast boy from Attractive Beast with a spiritual bent — about choosing up valuables from a string of London malls compelled to shutter attributable to lockdown. The trickiest a part of the job includes a £3 million haul of bijou and equipment from Harrods, together with the famed Harris Diamond.
In the meantime, Linda, who’s U.Okay. CEO for some type of indeterminate multinational firm with pursuits in media, high-end retail and insurance coverage, doesn’t relish having to put off quite a lot of senior workers. Her boss, head of Chicago HQ Man (Ben Stiller), is comfortably holed up in Vermont, vexed that Linda refused to learn his BS dismissal assertion about how the departing execs are all household. And firm overlord Essien (Claes Bang, sparking issues up for a second with some attractive authority) is extra curious about flirting with Linda, whom he desires to relocate to New York to run East Coast operations. She is underwhelmed by that prospect and is considering quitting as soon as lockdown is behind them.
Linda’s colleagues hold praising her detachment, her capacity to “perform the onerous duties with out an excessive amount of feeling getting in the best way.” However Hathaway performs her as such an abrasively fidgety neurotic that none of that basically jibes. Knight drops in meaningless particulars like a reminder from Maria about their drunken evening of lesbian frisson, as if that is supposed to provide Linda some complexity. And Liman has her crazy-dancing across the backyard to Adam and the Ants to disclose the wild youngster suffocated by the company robotic. However every thing in regards to the character reveals the author’s hand, by no means any precise human perception.
Ejiofor fares no higher. He will get caught with male-centric observations like evaluating Linda being “sad in an clearly feminine manner” to his personal “castrated, male” unhappiness. And he stirs her waning sexual want for him by coming back from an exultant tour, dashing by way of the abandoned London streets on his bike and evading the cops in pursuit. Sure, the parched businesswoman actually is turned on by her leather-jacketed man rediscovering the misplaced bandito of his youthful years.
There are what looks as if hours of these things, punctuated by blasts of Beethoven, a lot of it involving video communications that you simply hold ready for Room Rater to weigh in on all of the ugly angles. The cutesiness of among the lockdown humor is frankly unbearable.
Linda (out the window to neighbor throughout the road): “How are you?”
Neighbor: “Horrible. You?”
Let’s simply skip over Paxton reciting poems in the midst of the road as unsolicited neighborhood leisure, or Linda banging saucepans throughout the nightly health-worker salute like she’s Courtney Love trashing a resort room.
By the point Linda and Paxton put their heads collectively on the diamond heist and the film lastly will get outdoors the home for an prolonged stretch, any funding on this pair — and whether or not they find yourself reinvigorated as a pair and £3 million richer — has been just about been snuffed out. There’s some visible curiosity in seeing the underground tunnels and vaults at Harrods, to not point out watching employees pack up the world-famous meals corridor. However the limitless speak turns into extra stultifying and the plotting more and more preposterous, aided by too many handy assists from Linda’s earlier employment at Harrods. Her quick-thinking appeal offensive when an sudden arrival threatens to blow their plan is the largest stretch. And the settlement between Linda and Paxton to attend till they’re within the second to decide to the crime simply makes the entire thing extra laborious.
The title forged, which additionally consists of Mark Gatiss as one of many associates fired by Linda, Lucy Boynton as an previous Harrods colleague, Stephen Service provider as retailer safety and Mindy Kaling as a Zoom drop-by, seldom escapes the self-consciousness imposed by Knight’s writing. This can be a script that ought to have been buried in a vault extra impenetrable than the one at Harrods, and an enterprise that does nothing to instill religion in the potential of pleasurable pandemic motion pictures.
Manufacturing firms: AGC Studios, Storyteller Productions, in affiliation with Hypnotic, Nebulaster
Distributor: HBO Max, WarnerMedia
Solid: Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Service provider, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Mark Gatiss, Claes Bang, Dulé Hill, Jazmyn Simon, Sam Spruell, Frances Ruffelle, Ben Stiller, Ben Kingsley
Director: Doug Liman
Screenwriter: Steven Knight
Producers: P.J. van Sandwijk, Alison Winter, Michael Lesslie
Government producers: Doug Liman, Steven Knight, Stuart Ford, Miguel A. Pulos Jr., Alastair Burlingham, Richard Whelan
Director of images: Remi Adefarasin
Manufacturing designer: Laura Conway Gordon
Costume designer: Lucy Bowring
Music: John Powell
Editor: Saar Klein
Casting: Joseph Middleton
Rated R, 118 minutes