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Review: Pandemic heist movie 'Locked Down' falls apart fast

Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor play a couple who decide to steal a diamond in this logic-free COVID caper

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

You expect corners to be cut in an on-the-fly pandemic movie, but virus or no, a heist movie needs to be airtight. 

"Locked Down" doesn't meet that standard. Director Doug Liman, whose resume includes the madcap thrill rides "The Bourne Identity" and "Edge of Tomorrow," slows the pace with this filmed-in-quarantine comic-drama, which morphs into one of the most unconvincing heist films in memory. Not even the excitement of the steal can save this one from the discard pile. 

Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Locked Down."

Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor star as Linda and Paxton, an on-the-rocks couple living in London during the COVID-19 pandemic. They're still under the same roof but living separate lives (on separate floors, no less), and slowly going crazy as the coronavirus ravages the world around them. 

Fate brings them together in an odd way: He's hired as a weekend driver and she's tasked with clearing out a holiday display at Harrod's, the luxury department store. This will give her unfettered access to a precious diamond worth £3 million and together, they'll steal it.

Wait, they'll what? Why? Limon and screenwriter Steven Knight ( "Locke") spend precious little time justifying Linda and Paxton's motives and even less time explaining the theft of the diamond, which they make seem as simple as stealing a grape from a grocery store. In addition, they saddle Paxton with a ludicrous hurdle: he's hired to drive under the alias Edgar Allan Poe, which should make him an obvious dupe to anyone on security detail. The joke is that... he isn't? Wait, is there even a joke here?

"Locked Down's" mere existence is its triumph: It was written, filmed, edited and now released all under quarantine, a maverick feat of ingenuity that would make its spiritual godfather, Steven Soderbergh, proud. But none of it seems vetted under even the loosest parameters of common sense, and a huge chunk of it unfolds on Zoom calls (Ben Stiller, Ben Kingsley and Mindy Kaling all make what amount to virtual cameos). The real theft here is of the viewer's time.   

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Locked Down'

GRADE: C-

Rated R: for language throughout and some drug material

Running time: 117 minutes

On HBO Max