While I’ve tried to block most of the early memories of lockdown from my mind, director Doug Liman invites viewers back into the first few months of quarantine in his recent film, Locked Down.
The film centers on couple Linda and Paxton, played by Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, respectively. Linda has broken up with Paxton, but due to the stay-at-home order, the couple is forced to live together. The pair gives off major Hallmark movie vibes; Linda dreads her soulless corporate job at her vaguely fashion-related company while Paxton is erratic, adventurous and in the process of figuring out his life. The two argue almost constantly for the first half of the film, often delivering cheesy, over-exaggerated lines about how absolutely unbearable the pandemic is.
Things really start to heat up when Paxton receives an under-the-table assignment to move items from luxury department store Harrods, including a diamond worth 3 million pounds. Despite the fact that Linda is literally the CEO of her company and the two live in a lavish two-story home in London, the couple plans a heist to steal the diamond.
Heist subplot aside, there are some relatable depictions of life during the pandemic. Linda wears classic Zoom outfits to her work calls, contrasting her professional blazers with pajama bottoms. In another scene, the entire neighborhood claps for frontline workers. The film also doesn’t shy away from the realities of Zoom calls, such as the buffering, audio feedback and low video quality we’ve probably all experienced (and don’t want to be reminded of).
Still, a lot of the pandemic representations felt inaccurate. Characters rarely wore masks and when Linda and Paxton go to Harrods, the store is full of workers (also maskless) clearly not social distancing.
Ultimately, Locked Down is probably more of a heist film than a true period piece. But, as one of the first big budget productions on pandemic life, it probably should’ve done better at depicting current times. Throughout the first half of the film, the characters become more and more reckless, seemingly because of the limitations of quarantine. While quarantine definitely presented many struggles, it almost felt tone-deaf for the film to escalate in the way that it did. We get it. Life sucks right now. But that doesn’t drive me to want to steal a diamond.
Overall, the film was confusing, annoying and poorly written. It felt distant from reality, but not even in a way that adequately blends fantasy with actuality. Unfortunately, it will still probably go down in history as the first of many in a genre attempting to capture the microcosms of life during a pandemic.
Quite frankly, I don’t really want any more pandemic-related movies made in the foreseeable future. At least, not ones made in the way I know Hollywood will: dramatic and historically inaccurate. It would be egregious to current and future generations to sugarcoat the many harsh realities of the pandemic and I doubt anyone wants yet another reminder of what we are still living through. Unless, you decided to steal a diamond, of course.
Thumbnail photo via HBO Max is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.