Review: Lockdown (2021)

Written and directed by Bizhan M. Tong, in the midst of a global pandemic an actor who enters an audition must pass a series of tests in order to keep those around him alive. Starring: Kevin Leslie, Tara Ahmed, Andrew Akinyede, Jacob Anderton, Xander Berkeley, Natalie Cheung, Anita Chui, Reza Diako, Zaza Fan, Jason Griffin, Luke Hornsby, Jumayn Hunter, Gilles Mendy, Olivia Moyles and Pamela Nomvete.

Lockdown begins with a solid concept, leaning into the genre of people being trapped in sadistic games, then mixing it with some relevant issues to today’s world to create a reflective look at behaviour on and off social media. Trying to create an example of pushing someone to recognise and face the consequences of selfish actions. On the face of it, it should work but there’s one key flaw which immediately topples everything, centring the story around a right wing covid denier when trying to send a message about selflessness and protecting others. The two things can’t go hand in hand, you’re ultimately asking your audience to have sympathy for a person you’re rallying against, it’s entirely contradictory despite the best of intentions.

It’s not the only issue at work, the writing as a whole is extremely wooden, the dialogue doesn’t come across naturally. Not to mention it’s also somewhat sexist, having its lead call a woman a ‘dumb bitch’ for no apparent reason. The story also goes on far longer than necessary, often taking much too long to move forward or get to a readily apparent point. It does manage to build a sense of mystery but its other issues unfortunately undermine that. It also struggles to be consistent with its characters, the lead in particular, pushing to make him seem clever when he’s clearly quite dumb.

The acting is similarly problematic, hindered partially by the dialogue but the performances are also stiff and for the most part unconvincing. Kevin Leslie takes a good shot as Larry but it’s not consistent and his character simply isn’t likeable or charismatic enough to want to follow him or care about his ultimate fate. The most interesting performance comes from Gilles Mendy in his debut, his cool headed criminal is intriguingly logical and almost the only character with a tangible presence. The appearance by Xander Berkeley is a nice addition but sadly comes across as a cheap attempt to create the satisfying quality to the resolution and falls flat.

Lockdown unfortunately cuts itself off at the knees by taking a contradictory route to a well-intentioned point. The story overextends itself and the unnatural nature to its conversations undermines building a genuine thriller. Focusing on a character with so few redeemable qualities in a story with a message about thinking of others, simply doesn’t work.

Verdict: ✯ | 2/10

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