Locked Down: Film Review

Locked Down

Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor fronting a romantic comedy-heist movie set during London’s first lockdown? Sounds bizarre but sign me up!

Hathaway and Ejiofor are Linda and Paxton, a longtime couple who have lost their spark, sleep in separate rooms, and are basically living as strangers in their own house. They have essentially broken up and plan to part ways for real once the lockdown is over. In addition to their romantic frustrations, Linda is considering quitting her job as the CEO of Miracore UK after having to make most of her staff redundant with no notice, and Paxton is on furlough, depressed and feeling a sense of despair about his life, frustrated that he can’t get a better job than a delivery driver due to a conviction 10 years ago.

His boss Malcolm (Ben Kingsley) calls him up and asks him to make a few high-value deliveries from department stores over the course of a week – using a false identity due to his criminal history – while Linda has to clear out the stock from an in-store jewellery and accessories event that never took place at Harrods due to the lockdown. The centrepiece of the event was the Harris Diamond, a £3 million jewel hidden in the vault at the luxury store, with its replica on display on the shop floor. Realising their schedules align, Linda and Paxton concoct a plan to steal the diamond.

Does the plot sound awfully contrived to you? That’s because it really is! The logistics of how the heist comes together are worthy of an eye roll. The movie isn’t a heist film in the usual sense – if you’re going into this expecting something in the vein of the Ocean’s franchise, you’ll be disappointed, because it’s more a case of the fates aligning to make the opportunity present itself and they decide if they should take it or not. Although it was cool to see inside Harrods during the lockdown, the heist itself is rather anticlimactic as there’s not much high-stakes tension or thrill involved.

Locked Down, directed by Doug Liman, is much more successful in the romantic comedy domain, although it is more amusing and entertaining than laugh-out-loud funny. I liked Hathaway and Ejiofor as these characters; I thought they very charming and had great chemistry as a couple stuck in a rut unable to figure a way out. I also enjoyed being able to relate to the mundane details of lockdown life, such as queuing for the shop and remembering a mask before you go, as well as the Clap for Carers and all the technical issues you might encounter working from home. It encapsulated the “life on hold” feeling quite well, although it is set in the first wave of the lockdown and we now know that it’s going to be another year or so before that feeling goes away.

As well as the two lead performers, there are some enjoyable virtual appearances from famous faces, like Ben Stiller as Linda’s boss Solomon and Mindy Kaling as her former Harrods colleague Kate, and Dule Hill and Jazmyn Simon as David, Paxton’s half-brother, and his wife Maria, while you also get in-person appearances from Stephen Merchant and Lucy Boynton as Harrods employees.

Sure, the heist element doesn’t quite work and it could have been funnier, but I quite enjoyed Locked Down as a light-hearted, amusing take on pandemic life. Some people might not think it’s the right tone but as someone who handles doom and gloom with humour, this works well for me.

Available to rent at home on premium video-on-demand platforms from Thursday 11th March

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Witches: Film Review

The Witches

Nicolas Roeg terrified a generation of children with his 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic The Witches, starring Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch, and now Robert Zemeckis has attempted to put a fresh spin on it with this new remake.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, it goes a little something like this – a young orphaned boy (Jahzir Bruno) and his grandma (Octavia Spencer) check into a hotel in Alabama in the 1960s for a little break. Around the same time, witches arrive at the hotel for a convention during which the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway) announces her plans to rid the world of children – she has developed a formula which can turn them into mice.

Roeg’s 1990 version of The Witches was grotesque, horrifying, and super scary for children who watched it back in the day. However, I was not one of those children. I watched for the first time last week in preparation for this release and I’m confident it would have given me nightmares as a child, as the Grand High Witch’s prosthetic-heavy transformation was still pretty gross, even to me, as an adult watching today. But anyway, my point is that I can be more unbiased as I have no emotional connection or feelings of nostalgia towards it and believe it’s quite a flawed film.

Zemeckis has clearly tried to make his remake less horrifyingly scary, which means that it loses the edginess which made the original so popular. And that would have been fine if it was able to conjure up the magic elsewhere but it just falls quite flat and it feels like something is missing. Although some scary moments have been dropped and the prosthetics have replaced by CGI, The Witches will still terrify children, particularly with Hathaway’s wide-grinned, sharp-toothed transformation and steely, creepy glare. Be warned parents: the Grand High Witch may still give your kids nightmares, but it’s not scary enough to affect adults.

Hathaway deserves a lot of praise for her performance. It’s a tough job following in Huston’s footsteps but she steps up to the challenge. She really throws her all into the role and is incredibly creepy, although it’s a shame the scariest parts of her transformation are realised through CGI. It just meant her big moment – the convention’s opening speech – is nowhere near as disturbing or affecting as Huston’s. Spencer also does well as the lovable grandma befriending CGI mice, while Stanley Tucci is wasted as the hotel manager. Chris Rock‘s narration didn’t completely work for me, but he brought great enthusiasm to the voice role and I liked how it made sense at the end.

The Witches remake may not capture the magic of the original, but it is sure to scare kids regardless. It’s rated PG but consider yourselves warned!

The Witches is available to rent from Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Microsoft Store, Sky Store, and Google Play from Monday 26th October.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Dark Waters: Film Review

I’m really surprised Dark Waters didn’t get any love this awards season. Its subject matter is something that the Oscars usually love, so it’s a shame this film has flown under the radar because it tells a staggering story.

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Serenity: Film Review

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My Christopher Nolan top five

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Colossal: Film Review 

Colossal had one of the most bizarre concepts I have heard in recent months so obviously I had to check it out – and it was definitely worth the cinema trip.

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