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‘Locked Down’ proves even a Hollywood heist can’t make the pandemic fun

The’s joking about me for thinking someone was going to make the pandemic fun.

Not that it was fun, or even that it should be. But the last few months of watching the moody, shallow, and most often life-injured regurgitations of life in the early days of my forties have been such a lack of insight that the new film’s vivid, smooth . Locked was like a beacon of hope for upcoming COVID content.

This was not going to be, it seemed, another unbearable caving in the heartbreaking beginnings of the pandemic, when precautions, quarantines and stress were an unknown shock. No, this was going to be a couple movie featuring a heist at the Harrods department store that took place while the rest of the world was on lockdown. Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Coronavirus Edition. How cheeky! How refreshing! How positively Hollywood!

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The film, starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor and set for 18 days in September in London, was not expected to be a masterpiece reflecting the experience of this past year in a fundamental way. and deep. It just sounded like fun.

Instead of simply re-dramatizing the discord and anxiety he experienced in his early forties, he was going to use the circumstances of the lockdown as a catalyst for a bizarre Hollywood caper. Two hot actors organize a heist! Whee! We need it!

Imagine the disappointment, then, to have watched Locked and find that it thwarted any potential to take us into a next stage of pandemic art. It’s a quarantine movie like every other quarantine show we’ve watched and grumbled about – until it wasn’t too briefly.

He’s so preoccupied with moralizing about the psychological effects of the early days of seclusion, and so happy with his still too early analysis of how we have treated him that he practically ignores the one plot element that he is. makes it interesting. It’s a heist movie that treats its heist as an afterthought.

Locked launches by trapping viewers in the emotional claustrophobia of the London townhouse shared by Linda (Hathaway) and Paxton (Ejiofor), a couple who were set to go their separate ways just before the town’s first lockdown forced them to being reluctantly locked in things we said ringing all over the house like fucking bells, ”Paxton told his brother (Dule Hill) on a Zoom call.

No TV show or movie has succeeded in reflecting the misery of the early forties in a gratifying or insightful way. Now, all these months later and still watching the still trapped barrel of time ahead, the anxieties and unease of anyone complaining about life in March and April 2020 seems mundane. So consider it a dud, then, that Locked begins by doubling this misery.

The movie is, in fact, obsessed with this, this idea that these two humans are so subject to the confines of their house that we would have empathy for their situation – as if their frustrations and were bristling against each other. and their constant need. talking about it, talking about it, talking about it and talking about it a little more is somehow unique, new or interesting.

They both stare at the navel in destructive ways. Linda is a rising corporate star who complains that she got lost in the face of capitalist douchebaggery. Paxton still feels unworthy, stalked by the shadow of a violent crime he committed a decade ago and unable to find a career outside of driving a van. Their respective crises are magnified by the most exacerbated circumstances of our lives, and their breakdowns crash and collide with each other in their respective downward spirals.

For all those irritating and tedious retreads of spring’s most insensitive pandemic chores, there’s hardly a glance at the grim reality of the virus.

This is played out in Zoom calls and FaceTimes and Skype sessions with colleagues, friends, and families. They relieve their stress by succumbing to old vices – drinking, smoking, taking drugs – and violently banging pots together during the 7 p.m. ovation for health workers as if it were a tribal cleansing ritual.

There are tense conversations about grocery shopping and face covers, and teleconferencing snafus. And, for all those annoying and irritating retreads from the most numbing pandemic chores of spring, there’s barely a glance at the grim reality of the virus, its dangers, or its victims – aside from those laughing characters. of their lots locked in life.

This part of the film inexplicably draws inspiration, establishing a labyrinth of shared biography and history between the couple that is ultimately too insignificant to bother to recount here. Perhaps the presumption was that knowing more about their dire emotional situation would better explain their savage decision to steal a $ 3 million diamond from a high security department store. But considering how the various logistics of the heist end up being contrived and implausible, there is no reason to justify the hour and more to clear your throat before the action begins.

It’s disappointing because the film is fun. It just takes forever to get there.

Paxton gets a job hauling valuables to a handful of department stores while the town is closed. One of those concerts is carrying jewelry that had been stored at Harrods in anticipation of a showcase canceled due to the pandemic. As it turns out, the company Linda is CEO of was running this showcase, and she was responsible for ensuring the safe transportation of the gems.

With Paxton in desperate need of the work and Linda not wanting him to get caught and also a little desperate to loosen his corporate tie and rebel, they hatch a plan to get away with the diamond on their own. price.

It’s a silly plan, made more ridiculous by the seriousness with which the film treats its outbreak.

There is a world in which this seriousness works to the advantage of the film, with moments turning to the camp in the most delirious way of Hollywood thrillers. Give Hathaway and Ejiofor credit in these times. They sell the hell of their often pretentious and preaching material. Hathaway has a woman’s rant about to puff a cigarette, with electrocuted “this woman is disturbed” hair delivered perfectly. At that point, the film comes to life.

You might even suspect director Doug Liman and screenwriter Steven Knight of playing cleverly with cinematic tropes in the context of the pandemic, finally finding a way to use God’s heinous act as a storytelling tool and not just a disappointment. creative giant. You would be wrong.

And that’s the wonder of Locked.

There is a world in which this seriousness works to the advantage of the film, with moments that turn towards the camp in the most delirious and enjoyable way.

This is the first film to be shot in the famous Harrods store in London. He was only able to do so due to COVID restrictions that closed the store. He was filmed during a sprint – barely 18 days, unheard of for a hug like this – due to fears the pandemic could get worse as filming dragged on.

It’s an unconventional cinema in an unconventional era. And yet, judging by how quickly most of it adheres to the same storyline as the dozens of TV shows and movies we’ve already seen produced in our forties, it’s terribly conventional in its approach to the pandemic. It’s an absurd thing to take away for a film that is, once again, about robbing a $ 3 million diamond in a department store during the coronavirus lockdown.

Is it bad, bad, or fun? It will depend on your tolerance for pandemic whining. (There are so many.) It will depend on how strong the spell Hathaway and Ejiofor’s irresistible charisma exert on you. (They are epically charismatic here, regardless.) It will depend on your willingness to finally enjoy the quarantine content you lead. Locked like an energetic lark, not an elitist personal essay on the capitalist COVID boredom hidden in a romantic comedy thriller. (Imagine how fun that premise could have been.)

Judging by the feedback from critics and the overwhelming public dislike of the quarantine content so far, there is no doubt that there is a desire for some sort of ‘phase two’. For projects that aren’t just about the pandemic – already tired surface exploration – but use the extreme situation as a stepping stone to something bigger, adding a layer of storytelling and creativity to it.

Locked is arguably a swing at that. (Again: heist!) And there’s a lot of buzz going around Malcolm and Marie, the romantic drama starring Zendaya which was filmed in quarantine. Maybe we’re on the right track to solving this very modern storytelling conundrum: how to create something that isn’t boring during the pandemic.

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