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Movie Review: “Locked Down”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

HBO Max Release: 1/14/2021

HBO Max Release: 1/14/2021

Synopsis

The pandemic has taken a toll on Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Linda (Anne Hathaway). Their relationship was not exactly at its best beforehand, as Linda had been planning on breaking up with Paxton for awhile. However, as she finally did so, the country went into lock down due to the pandemic, so the two have been stuck under one roof together. The result has been a miserable time for both of them.

Paxton was furloughed from his job, and he has to live with the woman who broke up with him. Linda has had to lay off a bunch of employees, and she has to live in the awkwardness of living with someone she has broken up with. Times have certainly been tough, but an opportunity soon falls into their laps. They each find themselves in a position that, should they work together, presents an opportunity to execute a jewelry heist that would make them millionaires. If they get caught, things will certainly get worse for both of them, but they start to think they have a real shot at pulling it off.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Anne Hathaway & Chiwetel Ejiofor (+5pts)

Boring First Half & Their Jobs (-6pts)

Relationships & The Pandemic (+4pts)

Coincidence & Anne's Rant (-4pts)

The Premise (+4pts)

Forced Drama & The Fake Diamond (-6pts)

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Pro: Anne Hathaway & Chiwetel Ejiofor (+5pts)

Neither of their characters will leave much of an impression on you, but that was more due to the writing, as opposed to the performances. I already mentioned what each of the characters had going on in the synopsis, but unfortunately, the filmmakers did not really take these characters down interesting roads from there. Linda was bored of Paxton. Paxton felt depressed and alone. That was really the extent of their stories, and then toward the end of movie, a character had a change of heart that did not really feel earned. Their characters were not written well, but Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor made the most of it.

Anne Hathaway's character felt the guilt of her role as CEO during the pandemic, and she felt tired of her relationship with Paxton, and a resentment formed as a result of that. Paxton felt abandoned and alone due to his relationship with Linda, and he felt like his life was going nowhere due to being furloughed. These characters were not exactly having a great time during the events of this movie. I did not think the filmmakers did a great job of developing these characters from there, but I thought Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor did pretty well with what they were given, and I totally bought that their characters had a heated past that had taken place before the events of the movie.

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Con: Boring First Half & Their Jobs (-6pts)

The first half of the movie was kind of boring and drawn out. I have seen a string of movies lately that were all about 30 minutes longer than they needed to be, and this was one of them. The beginning of the movie did not really have much going on, and the characters were not interesting enough to keep me engaged. If the filmmakers had trimmed this down by about 30 minutes, it would have made it feel concise and to-the-point, and it would have helped make this movie a lot more digestible. It also did not help that the characters' jobs were not at all clear to me, especially Linda's.

I knew Paxton was a driver of sorts, but I did not really know what sort of company he drove for, or how that put him in the opportunity to pull off the heist. I also had no idea what Linda's job was. I knew she was an executive at some company, but I had no idea what the company did or what she brought to the table, so it made it hard to buy her success. In all the time the filmmakers spent talking about these characters' jobs, I was surprised by how little I actually learned about them.

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Pro: Relationships & The Pandemic (+4pts)

This was an interesting, relevant romantic storyline. We have all gone through this pandemic, and while the end is hopefully on its way, most of us can relate to these characters staying at home due to COVID-19. Many of us can relate to the boredom, many of us can relate to the uncertainty regarding our jobs, and many of us can relate to being around our family members and significant others much more than usual. For some, this has not been a problem, for couples like Linda and Paxton, this ended up being a big problem.

Linda and Paxton's situation was relevant, and the relationship trouble that they had going into the lock down made their situation very interesting. Can you imagine going through a break up with the person you lived with, only to go into lock down before either of you had the chance to move out? It meant that they were basically trapped in a tense, awkward post-breakup situation, and as slow as the beginning of the movie was, this tension made the movie at least somewhat interesting. I thought the filmmakers sort of gave up on this tension, as the whole thing seemed to get resolved without much focus or explanation, but it was effective at getting me invested in this story from the beginning.

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Con: Coincidence & Anne's Rant (-4pts)

I thought it was a huge coincidence that Linda and Paxton had the perfect jobs for this heist. The odds of any one being in either of their positions was extremely rare, and the odds of both people being a couple who lived in the same house seemed next to impossible. It was not a huge deal, but I thought the filmmakers should have written a reason for it being each of them, a reason that did not rely entirely on a nearly impossible coincidence. Leaving it the way they did just made the whole thing seem unbelievable, in a movie which was grounded in the realism of the global pandemic.

Then there was Anne Hathaway's rant. I think Anne Hathaway did about as good a job as anyone could have done with this rant, but it still did not work for me. About halfway through the movie, Linda ranted about her job to Paxton, and it was this long, drawn out monologue that really did not provide much to the story. It was hard to follow what she was talking about, because everything she was saying was vague, and I had no connection to it. It did not help that I had no idea what her job actually was, so it was hard to connect with her issues with it and the guilt she felt. Again, Anne Hathaway did as good as I think she could have done with it, and it was impressive to think that she had to memorize the whole thing, but at the end of the day, I did not think the scene worked and I thought it should have been cut.

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Pro: The Premise (+4pts)

There was something about this premise that was just interesting. A couple that broke up just before the pandemic discovered they had a wide open opportunity to execute a high stakes jewel heist. It worked because it was a story with the relevance of the pandemic, but with a spin. It was set during lock down, which made it relatable, but it was really about ordinary people seeing a golden opportunity to break bad, and to make out big-time. Could the filmmakers have done a better job following through with the premise? Certainly, but I thought the premise itself was effective. It was a heist story in which the main characters were inherently relatable. because the story was set during a pandemic that all viewers are still living through.

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Con: Forced Drama & The Fake Diamond (-6pts)

The filmmakers in this movie clearly realized their heist was lacking some tension. Their solution was to inject a bunch of potential risks in the main characters’ plan. None of it felt very natural, and none of it really amounted to anything. There was the Edgar Allen Poe thing, the Stephen Merchant moment, Linda’s coworker in the climax, and more. It was as if the filmmakers wanted an intense heist, but they also did not want any obstacles in their protagonists’ way. So, while on one hand, the filmmakers kept forcing unnatural, tension building moments, they were simultaneously writing these obstacles out of the way in the most convenient way possible.

Then there was the whole fake diamond thing. While they wanted to steal the real diamond, Linda and Paxton were aware of the presence of an identical fake one. The existence of this fake diamond was stupid, because it took almost all of the risk out of the heist. If someone did not physically watch them swap the diamonds, then no one would have been the wiser to them stealing the diamond after the fact. The filmmakers made this very clear, and it meant that all of the sneaking around, and all of the tension were pointless, because there was no way they were going to get caught. For a heist movie, the fake diamond was a dumb inclusion by the filmmakers, because it eliminated almost all of the risk.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (72pts)

As soon as the pandemic hit its first peak, and everything began locking down, we all knew there would be a slew of movies and television series about it. Then I saw ads for this movie and I knew it was beginning. That being said, I thought the filmmakers had a decent premise here. While it was very much capitalizing on the relevance of the pandemic, it had the added twist of being about a couple that had hit rock bottom, and had broken bad as a result of their situation during the lock down. From there, I did not think the filmmakers followed through. The characters were mostly one dimensional—although Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor did the best with what they had—and the plot was filled with holes, coincidences, and forced drama. There was a decent premise here, and the two lead actors did the best they could, but ultimately, this movie left a lot to be desired.