COVID-19 sent whole world into lockdown. And while some families grew closer as a result of being shut inside together for months on end, other families became even more dysfunctional.
Married couple Paxton and Linda are one such family. Before being forced into quarantine together, Linda had already made up her mind to leave Paxton. An argument was had, words were exchanged, and then the two miserable ex-lovers moved into separate bedrooms to wait out the virus.
But that wasn’t the end of it: Paxton got furloughed from his job as a truck driver. And between the isolation and not having a purpose, he’s growing more manic every day, unable to sleep, forced to sell his beloved motorcycle for cash and not even able to go to his wife for consolation.
“I am going slightly mad lately,” Paxton says.
But he’s not the only one. Because even though Linda puts on a good face, she hates her job. She hates that she was forced to fire people in the middle of a pandemic while she received a promotion. And she hates that her company has no problem making shady deals to put more money in the pockets of its executives. As much as they’d both like to believe that things will eventually get better, they realize that even when lockdown ends, they’ll still be separated and stuck at jobs they hate.
So when an unusual “opportunity” presents itself—to steal a valuable diamond with virtually no chance of getting caught—they have a choice to make. Will this struggling couple work together to steal the jewel that they think will solve their problems? Or will they continue to suffer as prisoners of their jobs, finances and the pandemic.
Despite their circumstances, Linda and Paxton still care for one another’s well-being. They may not be truly happy together, but they still want each other to be happy.
When one of Linda’s former employees (whom she was forced to lay off) receives a tip that the driver working with Linda is an imposter, he rushes to check on her and to make sure she isn’t in any danger.
Neighbors in quarantine entertain each other with poetry shouted across the street. People bang pots and cheer for health workers.
Paxton believes that his name is a harbinger of doom. He talks several times about how fate has always worked against him, and he later speculates about whether it’s fate or free will that determines someone’s destiny. He also mentions that he and Linda used to be pagans.
Paxton’s boss claims to be a Christian and starts each video call with a personalized prayer for his employees. However, he proves to be a hypocrite, since he forces Paxton to commit identity fraud. He also prays for God’s forgiveness before they commit the crime together.
Linda says that she only cares what Paxton, her dead mother and God think about her life and decisions. And she later says God is OK with her stealing. However, she also goes back and forth between caring what her Calvinist grandmother would have thought as well.
Someone reads a poem that says, “Stand up, but not for Jesus—it’s a little late for that.” We hear Handel’s Messiah in the background of a video call. Someone says he believes God exists, but that He isn’t actively present in our lives. A woman says her ex-husband was obsessed with “white magic.” Linda meditates.
Paxton and Linda share a passionate kiss. It is also implied that they have sex one night, though nothing is seen onscreen. In a later scene, they snuggle on a bed together and Linda kisses Paxton’s cheek. We see Paxton in his underwear several times, and once in a bath towel.
We hear about an affair between two married women (and one woman begs the other not to tell her husband). We hear about two other same-sex couples. Paxton says that Linda nearly slept with his therapist. One of Linda’s coworkers says he wanted to seduce her. A woman makes a crude comment about arousal. We hear about a peeping Tom.
We learn that Paxton went to prison for beating a man senseless 10 years ago; however, the man was trying to kill someone else. Linda tells Paxton a story about how she broke several valuable glass items in anger when she realized how corrupt her company was.
Linda catches Paxton with a hose from a bike exhaust in his helmet. And although he insists it was just a joke for a selfie, she and his brother worry he might try to harm himself.
Someone talks about how Valkyries used to randomly choose who would live and who would die before a battle, comparing that randomness to how COVID-19 affects some people worse than others.
We hear the f-word about 75 times and the s-word seven times. There are one or two uses each of “h—,” “a–” and “b–tard.” And we also hear the British expletive “bloody.” God’s name is misused 25 times and Jesus’ once. A teenager also writes the f-word and “a–” on posters that he displays during his dad’s business meeting, mouthing the words to the camera.
We learn that Paxton used to smoke marijuana and heroin but has been sober for 10 years. However, after realizing that the poppy bulbs in his garden are a form of opium, he breaks his sobriety and uses the drug to help him sleep (though he later experiences vomiting as a side effect). We also learn that a hedgehog has been accidentally getting high from the bulbs.
Linda smokes multiple cigarettes and drinks lots of wine (even during business meetings). She tells Paxton that she started smoking again because a homeless woman asked her for a cigarette, and she figured that if she helped the woman out, she might feel better about her shady job. Paxton later buys cigarettes for Linda and decides to start smoking again as well.
Linda confesses that she has been adding vodka to her “green” smoothies ever since her promotion. Someone says that everyone is drinking more during lockdown. We hear about other characters smoking marijuana and drinking. Someone talks about being able to go to bars in Sweden. Paxton wonders if he should start dealing heroin.
One lie forces another lie, which forces another and another until finally, enough lies have been told that Linda can see a way to steal a diamond worth 3 million British pounds. And while she and Paxton debate whether or not it’s morally right to commit the crime, they’ve already become so compounded in all their other lies and crimes that it doesn’t really seem like such a big deal to them. They justify their actions because the buyer of the diamond is probably a money launderer and human-rights abuser—though they never actually get proof of those assumptions. They also convince Linda’s former employee to lie when he catches them, since the company lied about why they fired him.
Because of Paxton’s criminal record, he isn’t allowed to transfer valuable items for his company. However, his boss asks him to use a fake ID to do it anyways. His coworker, who despises him for being an ex-con, purposely tries to have Paxton caught instead of reporting the fraud to police.
People talk about the negative effects of the COVID-19 lockdown. We hear about jobs being lost, relationships ending, and people dying from the virus. We also see a man hoarding toilet paper during a shortage.
Linda vents her frustrations to her boss. But rather than addressing her concerns, he asks if she has a temperature, implying he believes she is only saying certain things because a fever is making her crazy.
Several people are inappropriate during Zoom calls, talking about personal topics, gossiping about coworkers who may have the virus, swearing and making sexual innuendos.
A man says the coronavirus was the consequence of “Jews releasing alien DNA into the water sprinkling system of a Chinese golf resort.” Linda says her grandma was a racist. Paxton’s brother starts a conversation by stating he is only his “half-brother” because he doesn’t want to give Paxton money. Someone says that any man over the age of 35 who rides a bus is a failure.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And the coronavirus pandemic certainly explains some of those measures. However, something tells me that despite Linda’s claims that God would approve of their actions, identity fraud and grand larceny aren’t exactly justified by the coronavirus.
But then, Linda and Paxton are used to justifying their actions. It’s OK that Paxton nearly killed a man once since that man was trying to kill someone else. It’s OK that they both broke their sobriety since it helps them cope with the insanity of extended quarantine. It’s OK that Linda cheated on Paxton with a woman since she was leaving him anyways. It’s OK that they’re stealing a diamond worth three million pounds since the buyer is likely a terrible human being anyway.
Except that it’s not OK.
Nothing and no one is OK anymore. And that’s another message this film tries to get across. COVID-19 has changed us—some for the better, some for the worse—and we all have to find ways to survive. And while I don’t think the creators of this film are suggesting that anyone should commit a crime, it does seem to say that we’re all going through it, so hang on however you can.
Even so, Locked Down is rife with issues. Paxton and Linda’s drug use, smoking and drinking come as the sad result of going slightly mad during the lockdown. Their cursing, not so much. No amount of face masks can cover up the foul language pouring from character’s mouths.
We’ll eventually make it through lockdown, but in the meantime, most families will probably want to avoid watching Locked Down: It could add to the insanity we’re already feeling.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.