17th May2021

‘Locked In’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Mena Suvari, Jeff Fahey, Jasper Polish, Manny Perez, Costas Mandylor, Bruno Bichir, Natalie Smith, James Biberi | Written and Directed by Carlos V. Gutierrez

Maggie (Mena Suvari), a single mom who is struggling to make ends meet, is living with her teenage daughter (Jasper Polish) in a rundown motel and facing impending eviction. She works at a storage facility where she and her daughter are caught in the middle of a shady deal gone wrong between her boss and two criminals resulting in her bosses murder. Retreating into the facility’s maze of corridors Maggie and her daughter they are pursued by the two criminals, in search of stolen diamonds which are stashed somewhere inside of the facility. In order to survive and protect her daughter, Maggie must utilise her intimate knowledge of the facility and her strong will to remain one step ahead of the intruders.

Another film that, on paper, sounds like yet another “Die Hard in a…” film, I honestly expected actress Mena Suvari to surprise everyone and go all kick-ass heroine, saving the day like a female John McClane. That’s not what you get from Locked In… What you do get is a woman put in a situation she can’t control trying very much to get control – at least in the form of keeping herself and her daughter alive. This is more of a suspense thriller rather than action movie. But that’s not a bad thing. After all, its good to have your expectations subverted sometimes.

What works in Locked In are the characters. Mena Suvari’s put-upon Maggie really feels like she’s a woman who’s both out of her depth but also knows exactly what to do but doesn’t want to do it for fear of unleashing something inside herself. It’s revealed later that Maggie was as much of a criminal, perhaps even moreso, than her husband who is now in jail. However Maggie is keeping straight for her daughter, even though the pair have a strained relationship, and Suvari captures that emotional rollercoaster and inner struggle terrifically.

Meanwhile Jeff Fahey plays the evil bastard of the film to perfection. You hate him from the get-go and rightly so. This is a man who will stop at literally nothing to get what he wants – brutally killing a cop and threatening the life of Maggie’s daughter. And when he does so you really believe that he will, eventually, follow through on his threats. But to be fair to Fahey, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him give a poor performance, not matter the film, the budget or the genre.

What doesn’t work in Locked In however, is the appearance of Costas Mandylor. I get that he’s a great actor, because he is. However recently he’s been typecast in duplicitous roles where he plays seemingly good guys, including cops, but in reality he’s in it for himself. Which means that every film he’s appeared in recently you can’t help but be suspicious of his motives; and the same is true here. Which really hurts the suspenseful aspect of the film!

Ultimately Locked in is more heist movie than Die Hard clone, and whilst some of the suspense is lost due to the aforementioned casting, the film still holds its own as a thriller – though adding a little more action could have made this a more exciting affair.

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