Locked Down

Peter Malone MSC 14 May 2021

A drama reminding audiences of 2020 experiences of lockdown. Set in London, Harrod’s stock has to be transferred to storage – including a valuable diamond. Temptation follows.

LOCKED DOWN, UK/US, 2021. Heist drama. Starring Anne Hathaway, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Dule Hill, Mark Gatiss, Ben Kingsley, Ben Stiller, Sam Spruell, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Claes Bang, Lucy Boynton. Directed by Doug Liman. 118 minutes. Rated M (Coarse language and drug references)

Locked Down are probably two of the most used words throughout the world in 2020. Audiences looking at the title would be aware of their own experiences of lockdown and possibly curious to see a film on this theme.

Linda (Hathaway) and Paxton (Ejiofor) have been together for 10 years – he British, she American, but are now experiencing lockdown in an apartment block in the west of London.

The first 20 minutes or more make audiences experience something of lockdown and their memories of being confined. Whether that was exactly a wise dramatic move is open to question, some audiences rather unwilling to be in lockdown again – even if it is watching a movie about lockdown. Much of their dialogue is about feelings of alienation and irritation with each other. And, of course, up comes Zoom, Paxton checking with his half-brother in New York, and many audiences remembering their Zoom and Skype conversations and communication.

So, where could this drama be going? Perhaps not far because of lockdown.

What emerges is that Paxton has something of a criminal background and is employed as a truck driver – with a cameo by Ben Kingsley at his comically sinister best, religious but also rather ‘bent’ according to the law. There is a big job coming up because, as we remember, minimal shopping during lockdown and big stores, especially Harrods which becomes one of the stars of this film, has valuable merchandise which needs to be transferred into safe storage.

Meanwhile, we discover that Linda is a powerful executive, who has worked for five years at Harrods, and is moving up in the world of administration. Her company is invited to supervise the transfer of goods from Harrods to the storage. And, and here the screenplay moves into the realm of thriller, a possible heist, there is a £3 million diamond to be transferred.


The latter part of the film is more dramatically interesting, of course, and the continued to and fro-ing of the moral issue, to steal or not to steal. Linda is motivated by a solution to financial problems, while in part Paxton is motivated by a reconciliation with Linda.

One of the advantages of the film is a number of character actors turn up in cameos, some quite unexpectedly. Ben Stiller turns out to be the boss on the other end of zoom in Vermont with his rebellious son mocking him behind his back (played by one of Ben Stiller’s sons). Then there is Stephen Merchant doing a Stephen Merchant gawky cameo, Mindi Kayling being genial. Lucy Boynton works at Harrods. And, especially, Gatiss as Donald, one of those executives whom Linda has to fire – zoom! He turns up at Harrods at the moment of the dilemma of whether to take the diamond or not.


And, for audiences who want to know whether they will still the diamond or not, they have to remain right to the end to get the answer. (Some who found the early part of the film difficult have not wanted to be lockdowned right until the end of the film.)

Release 6 May
Peter Malone MSC is an associate Jesuit Media