At some point in the past quite a few months, pop culture established during the pandemic about the pandemic went from a slicing-edge novelty to just another reality of everyday living: Of study course it is in all our films and reveals now, because it is really in almost everything now. Nevertheless the strangeness of revisiting the incredibly latest previous has not fully dissipated, at least for this reviewer. Looking at Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor muddle by means of March 2020 in Locked Down felt like looking at anyone — the characters, the actors, the filmmakers, or maybe myself — battle to pin down anything interesting or meaningful about the periods, and never ever pretty obtaining there.

With a premise which is portion rom-com, element heist thriller, and all COVID drama, Locked Down is a bit like if Mr. & Mrs. Smith, also from director Doug Liman, have been set in a socially distanced London. And why not? If you can find just one detail we have figured out around the past year, it really is that lifestyle still goes on although so lots of of us are caught indoors. Plans are nonetheless made, strategies are however hatched, relationships are still shaped or broken. But the formula’s not accurately ideal. Locked Down delivers also substantially on the drab fact of its premise and not adequate on the escapist fantasy.

Locked Down delivers way too much on the drab truth of its premise and not more than enough on the escapist fantasy.

For starters, and there is certainly actually no other way to say it, the two prospects are irritating as hell. Paxton (Ejiofor), a furloughed supply driver, spends his times stewing in restlessness and resentment, occasionally punctuated by search-at-me antics like running into the middle of the avenue to shout poetry at his neighbors. Linda (Hathaway) is a brittle advertising exec who’s been pushed so considerably past her breaking position that she’s 1st launched screaming into a pillow. Just after a decade alongside one another, they have resolved to split up, only to uncover on their own compelled to remain in the exact tastefully appointed townhouse thanks to COVID constraints.

So they alternate amongst bickering with just about every other, striving to ignore just about every other, and bickering about making an attempt to overlook each other. Both of those are inclined to lavish theatrical monologues (scripted by Steven Knight of Locke and Peaky Blinders) that may get the job done in the context of, you know, an genuine theater, but occur off as overwritten performed out over realistically glitchy Zooms and messy bedrooms. There is certainly no element way too smaller to unleash a flash flood of emotion — in this film, not even a piece of tinsel receives to head its very own business without turning out to be the centerpiece of a speech about transform or control or the limitations of treatment. Ejiofor and Hathaway pour themselves into each and just about every just one, like the experts they are, but observing them complain emphatically at just about every other is no fun, even if, or especially if, we recognize in them our possess nervous selves from the begin of the pandemic.

Raiding the food items court docket of an vacant division keep does glance entertaining, even though.

Image: Susie Allnutt / HBO max

The wordiness better satisfies the closing 3rd of the film, at which issue it veers from a connection dramedy (the “-medy” aspect is mostly supplied by comedian cameos from the likes of Mindy Kaling, Stephen Merchant, and Ben Stiller, however even their skills appear subdued here) to a heist flick. At the very least the vacant halls of Harrods, the luxurious division store where the crime is to just take position, provide as a a lot more grandiose stage for all of Paxton and Linda’s verbose outbursts of emotion, and it comes as a relief not to be stuck in such claustrophobic close quarters with them any more. Regrettably, Locked Down is no good shakes as a heist flick, both. It lacks the cleverness and the playfulness of an Ocean’s Eleven — or, for that make any difference, an Ocean’s 8, Hathaway’s other the latest movie about jewel burglars. Linda comes up with a plan, and then they have out that program, and it performs or it doesn’t, and then we are at the end of the story.

So what we are remaining with, afterward, is an oddity of a film which is hoping to function on a number of degrees, and not rather clicking on any of them. It is a comedy that’s not specially funny, and a drama which is not especially deep, and a thriller that is not specifically thrilling. Its central partnership is neither sweet nor attractive. Hathaway and Ejiofor have the exhausting chemistry of two men and women who deserve every single other due to the fact they are both of those insufferable in kind of the same way, which is not the exact matter as having the type of passionate spark that can make just one root for them to be jointly, or the form of fiery sizzle that tends to make them enjoyment to watch sparring with each and every other.

As for that hooky pandemic backdrop, it provides Locked Down the sheen of relevance with no including much depth. Near the finish of the movie, a character laments that “even right before the fucking virus, we were being all locked down in our routines,” putting in bald phrases what appears to be to be the film’s bigger theme — that the pandemic has forced us to rethink who we are, and to reexamine the priorities and views we have created our lives close to. Yeah, and? We know that. We have lived it. What is your point? I guess it really is a landmark in by itself that we’ve attained the point in our pandemic artwork deluge that references to the pandemic may elicit not tears or winces, but shrugs.

Locked Down is now streaming on HBO Max.