comedy Crime Romance

Locked Down

This COVID-19 crime caper spends too much time on the arguing and less time on the heist.

“Locked Down” is a comedy crime caper that was made during the COVID-19 outbreak, and has a premise about taking advantage of it to pull off a heist. It’s just been released on HBO Max, with one trailer released a week before, which is why you probably haven’t heard about it. Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor are the leads of the movie, which is director Doug Liman’s first entry since “American Made.”

They give likable performances when they ease into their characters and struggle to overcome the challenges they’re forced to face. We all are struggling during this outbreak, so I understand the sentimentality. But the problem with “Locked Down” is it spends too much time on the arguing, bickering, and financial problems, and less time on the main heist. I can imagine how it probably would have been done if it was directed by Steven Soderbergh, whose crime capers are ingenuous on almost all accounts.

The movie begins with the couple, Linda (Hathaway) and Paxton (Ejiofor), respectively doing Zoom chats with his half-brother (Dule Hill) and his wife (Jazmyn Simon, Hill’s real-life wife) and complaining about their relationship and experiences during lockdown. In fact, this outbreak is the only reason why they’re still living in the same apartment.

Linda, who is also the CEO of a big company, is forced to let her employees go, because of the virus. She doesn’t even read her boss’ (Ben Stiller cameos) message about how his employees were like a family of his. It makes sense why one of them would say to Linda: “How do you live with yourself?” And she’s given the decision about whether or not to return to New York for a promotion.

The zoom chats in “Locked Down” are more real and convincing than the ones Jay Roach presented in “Coastal Elites,” also released on HBO Max. They look like zoom calls with its images freezing up and the voices being funky, and not HD images. I’ve done it with both sides of my family, as well as a number of celebrities from William Shatner to Christopher Lloyd, so I know what looks like a COVID-19 shot, and what doesn’t.

Paxton’s boss (Ben Kingsley) warns Paxton that all the department stores in West End are closing their doors, and requires him for a driving position. Originally, he was in prison for getting into a fight to save a biker, which is why he can’t deliver the most valuable products. But he agrees to pull of this job, and is given a new ID with a new name: Edgar Allen Poe. A little McLovin moment isn’t it? Well, apparently, not many people in London have heard of this American poet.

When Linda has to pack up the Harrods department store valuables that Paxton is due to carry, she must take charge of the plan, which involves a valuable diamond and a replica. That’s when they learn to reconnect, which is so typical of this movie. It’s basically like “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” without the guns and shooting.

To be honest, “Locked Down” isn’t one of Doug Liman’s best films. The jokes aren’t that funny, although I did smile when Stiller’s son writes “F*ck Vermont” on a sign during a zoom call, and the arguments and business meetings (also with cameos from Stephent Merchant, Claes Bang, and Mindy Kaling) take up most of the film. In fact, the movie ends up being boring. Hathaway and Ejiofor both deliver for the right intentions, and believe me, Hathaway was much worse in “The Hustle,” but they’re weren’t enough to save the show.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Streaming on HBO Max

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