Locked Down Review: A Heist Comedy That Will Shake Up Your Quarantine

When the walls close in on you and fate presents a way out — do you take it? Director Doug Liman joins forces with screenwriter Stephen Knight in ‘Locked Down’ to answer this question with a quarantine heist-comedy that flips soured romance tropes on their head. 

When the walls close in on you and fate presents a way out — do you take it? Director Doug Liman (Mr. & Mr. Smith, The Bourne Identity, Swingers) joins forces with screenwriter Stephen Knight (Peaky Blinders) to answer this with a quarantine heist-comedy that flips soured romance tropes on their head. 

Our story is set in London during the initial lockdown in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Linda (Anne Hathaway) are an estranged couple living together who find themselves stuck in quarantine and facing the demise of their 10-year relationship. Paxton, at the end of his wits, is losing all meaning to his life after being furloughed, dumped by the love of his life, and losing the other love of his life, his motorcycle. The writing in this film is so dry and subtle that I caught myself laughing more than I expected to, possibly because of my own personal derangement during this pandemic but that’s beside the point.

Locked Down
Photograph by Susie Allnutt

Paxton, during a passive-aggressive video call, expresses his eloquent frustrations about how he can’t even tell “what part is his body and what part is the furniture.” Paxton is a fiery yet worn down spirit who still has the passion of an artist yet the despair of a man who’s hit rock bottom. Linda is his opposite, an executive working for a major business conglomerate tasked to fire hard-working employees via Zoom and receives a promotion as a result. 

Locked Down

As our characters endure their days locked in a home devoid of the passion that once painted their lives, they project their frustrations out to the outside callers who test their patience and morality. Linda was planning on leaving Paxton for quite some time due to his lack of success in his career due to a criminal record and Paxton gives up all hope as a result. The chemistry and dynamic between these two feel real due to their strained interactions and the indecisive nature of Linda and her reluctance to let go of someone she’s loved for a very long time. 

Paxton receives an opportunity to save his career by taking on a fake identity given to him by his ex-employer, a religious zealot played by Ben Kingsley, which also includes a false identity due to Paxton’s criminal record and the sensitivity of the cargo being delivered. Due to the fact his employer only reads the Bible, his moniker was given to him by an employee that despises him and the name was Edgar Allen Poe because obviously, no one would notice? 

Despite the opportunities Linda’s been given she finds herself facing a dilemma as she realizes Paxton was tasked to do a delivery of precious goods who she was scheduled to supervise. In a crazy twist of fate, the estranged couple rediscovers their love for each other within the risky parameters of their big plot. 

Locked Down
Photograph by Susie Allnutt

My favorite scene in the film is where Linda describes a dinner party with the executives and the appearance of a dark figure weaving under the table that proceeded to follow her to her hotel room and shatter an expensive mirror. This dark figure is the reality of the corporate greed and shady behaviors of the privileged bourgeoisie. This dark figure and guilt for the part she played in this inspires her to do something she would have never imagined. 

Locked Down
Photograph by Susie Allnutt

I enjoyed the portrayal of our main characters as they reacted to the fatigue of zoom calls and banality of everyday existence. Our protagonists sat on both sides of the reality of the pandemic, Paxton representing the loss of work and identity as a member of society and Linda on the high ranks of corporate success, far removed from the regular denizens of society. They meet in the middle, where they both end up jaded by the cold realities of how the world works and decide to do something about it.

In conclusion, this film was a funny poke at what the pandemic has done to our mental health and the shifts in perspective as a result of being removed from our atypical capitalist society. This movie inspired me to celebrate the mundane whilst also dreaming of a way out of the boxes we put ourselves in. I recommend giving this film a watch for the straightforward entertainment it provides. 

Locked Down

Locked Down premieres on HBO Max January 14

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