You’re going to start seeing movies and television that were “bravely” filmed during the swirling, imposing pandemic. The kind that make the virus part of the plot. But as the onslaught of oh-so-topical projects starts to hit our screens, one question will remain for the those in search of quality entertainment: Why, when the excellent Michael Sheen/David Tennant production Staged exists on Hulu, would we ever put ourselves through the tired and unremarkable Locked Down with Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor now streaming on HBO Max? The short answer is that we shouldn’t.
The longer answer has something to do with Hathaway's Linda and Ejiofor's Paxton, a well-to-do American/English couple living in London who split up just as the UK COVID-19 lockdowns come into effect. We observe the aftermath. The well-to-do bit has everything to do with Linda's CEO position with some international company called Miracore. She's racked with doubt. Paxton, meanwhile, once went to prison, loves his motorcycle so damn much and apparently has toned down his former wild 'n' crazy ways to live in a posh multi-story house with a friendly hedgehog out back. Linda resents him for giving up his attitude even if he did it for her; Paxton likes poetry and reads it aloud in the streets to his neighbors. Gross.
The chemistry between the two is fleeting, though particularly smoldering during arguments. We understand things were said that cannot be unsaid, but somehow we got lost when, in the third act of the film, Linda and Paxton decide they're maybe going to pull off a heist. See, Paxton's courier service boss (Ben Kingsley) sends him to illegally transport a diamond from Harrod's department store—the very diamond Linda's company has…something to do with…somehow. Unclear. But they might steal it, and then it's splitsville, baby. No looking back. Right?
Hathaway and Ejiofor do their best with Hathaway in particular doling out a decent monologue or two. Ejiofor's effortless charm always works. Still, as rom-coms go, it's not that funny or romantic. As heist flicks go, it's kind of too little, too late. It's also hard to reconcile blink-and-miss-it performances from Kingsley, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling and Ben Stiller as anything other than a list of actors who said "Sure, I've got 10 minutes to Zoom in a performance," to director Doug Liman (he did Swingers, you know).
So, yeah, maybe just watch Staged? Or at least wait for something that isn't quite so drawn out and mostly boring with so little payoff.
+Hathaway sells it once or twice; hedgehog
-Too long and convoluted; when are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?!?
Directed by Liman
With Hathaway and Ejiofor
HBO Max, R, 118 min.