Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Locked Down / WarnerMedia
There is a truism that if you haven’t got a plot then you haven’t got a movie. There really is no way around that fact.
However, you can have a plot — a really good one too — and still not have a decent movie, and unfortunately that’s the case with the latest offering from WarnerMedia in “Locked Down,” which is streaming on HBO Max.
The film’s plot is a good one — a London couple pulls their relationship back together by attempting to pull off a diamond heist in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Add in the fact that the film features actors as talented and likable as Anne Hathaway in the role of Linda, a CEO of a fashion company, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as her husband Paxton, a delivery driver, and I was greatly anticipating director Doug Liman’s new film.
Just reading that little bit, and the movie had me by the lapels.
However, the devil truly is in the details because talky screenplay by Steven Knight not only let me loose but also lost me along the way.
By the third act, I’d been so bludgeoned by the characters’ inane self-examination that I had already lost interest in the movie.
Even the heist itself lacks the necessary tension one would expect from such a devious operation.
The crux of the film is that the extra time Linda and Paxton spent together during the lock down drained all the juice that was left in their already mundane relationship.
Evidently the two were much more free-spirited and wild when they first met and fell in love. Their marriage not only domesticated their relationship but also essentially neutered their attraction to each other.
We are clobbered over the head with this information with endless amounts of dialogue that only makes the characters less and less compelling.
When we meet Linda and Paxton, their love is already lost. They are only living together because of the the Covid-19 lockdown of London is basically forcing them to do so.
As the two begin to contemplate pulling off the heist that old romantic spark is rekindled, or at least it’s supposed to be.
However, Hathaway’s chilly, sullen performance never allows me to buy that she’s actually attracted to Ejiofor, whose Paxton is essentially jailed from achieving all he could in his career because an assault arrest from a decade ago limits his opportunities.
Ejiofor is better in his somewhat hapless role, but I was over any interest in either character before the film — which I hesitate to label as a romantic comedy because it’s neither funny, endearing, nor sexy — reaches its tepid climax.
Watching the movie was akin to a nauseating merry-go-round ride that I was all too happy to get off.
(R) 1 hr. 58 min.
Classic Corner – The Long Riders
David Carradine, Keith Carradine, and Robert Carradine in The Long Riders / United Artists
Hollywood has given Western fans many versions of the Jesse James story. I’d argue 20th Century Fox’s 1939 Technicolor version starring Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda as Jesse and Frank James is the most entertaining albeit least accurate version.
However, if you are looking for a bit more of the truth along with a more ripe and realistic depiction of the violence sparked by James-Younger gang, “The Long Riders” might do the trick.
The 1980 film directed by Walter Hill is a more down-and-dirty and truthful version of the story. The white-washed heroics of the 1939 film are all gone. While various members of the gang depicted in the movie have a bit of charisma, all are depicted as the cold-blooded killers and thieves they were.
The movie basically follows the flow of history with the gang that not only knocked over banks but also robbed trains from its early jobs following the Civil War until the gang overstepped its bounds and attempted to rob a bank in Northfield, Minn., way outside of their normal running territory. Somehow the town was warned up the hold-up attempt beforehand, and they were laying in wait.
The shootouts in the film are brutal and bloody in nature. Violence in a film about the James-Younger Gang hadn’t previously been depicted as realistically or as ruthlessly as Hill chose to do.
The film is a solid Western, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the movie, which focuses as much on the Youngers as it does the more famous Jameses, is the casting of actual brothers as the gang members.
James and Stacy Keach are featured as Jesse and Frank James. David, Keith, and Robert Carradine play Cole, Jim, and Bob Younger respectively. The parts of Clell and Ed Miller are played by Randy and Dennis Quaid. A nearly unrecognizable Christopher Guest is cast as Charley Ford with Nicholas Guest as the infamous Bob Ford, who shot James in the back of the head after enjoying a meal with the famous bandit.
The movie’s highlight scenes are fantastic train robbery and the gang’s bloody escape from their botched hold up in Middleton or horseback.
David Carradine, who starred in the 1970s TV series “Kung Fu,” is featured in one of the best knife fights ever depicted on screen when he has it out with half-blood Indian Sam Starr (James Remar) in a saloon over the famous prostitute named Belle Starr, played by Pamela Reed.