Although indie films are shot in a very specific framework and do not follow the same rules as all films (and, of course, not the rules of large studios), this does not mean that they are automatically allowed to “fall” into the category of flawed films. There may be flaws on them, and their characters may also be dull. As long as the audience is not mocked and considered silly, everything is allowed.
I say this by looking Locked In, because even if it seems that there are deliberate mistakes (and terrible decisions) in the film, you can’t blame the film for being silly, follish or even bad. It’s a heist movie where everything takes the wrong turn and the bad guys are much angrier than you might think. At the center is a hurtful mother who is trying to simply be in the center of chaos. To ask where the film goes in the second act and how everything is solved in the third is to ask questions that should not be asked. Creative freedom sometimes forces them to do wonderful things, and sometimes they adhere to the basic rules by which a whole small movie is created.
In “Locked Up” we get to know Maggie, a mother who, after her husband moves in, has to make ends meet in cage and take the reins of the family into her own hands. She works in a warehouse and lives together with her daughter in a motel in a very bad part of the city. When her daughter buys her a gift, she scolds them for not being able to afford it. She is very religious and everything she does must follow the laws of God.
When a colleague of Maggie’s is involved in a dubious business deal and Maggie catches him, she has the opportunity to get some cash. Contrary to what she is used to, she decides to do it. But on the same night, thieves on the run come to the center where Maggie works. Just at the moment when she contritions that she earns easy money, she becomes part of her scheme, which means the return of diamonds hidden somewhere by Maggie’s colleague. A crazy night.
“Locked up” is not an ordinary burglary film. This film is on the shoulders of Mena Suwari from beginning to end, as she now has to become the mother of a rebellious teenager and survive the wrath of a couple of thieves who will stop at nothing. Suwari’s very sharp and well-grounded performance makes the dramatic element of the film bigger than expected. If he is aimed at becoming an action movie, then he suddenly ceases to be more of a dramatic thriller. Jeff Feighi projects the counterweight as an antagonist who does not observe the rules and tries everything to take possession of the diamonds. These are her best performances in the movie.
And yes, “Locked up”, oddly enough, is a film in which actors do more than expected. Even if you think characters are doing things they shouldn’t be doing, you just believe in what they’re doing. The moral compass of the film is rejected enough to create an unstable third act in which anything can happen and it actually happens. There are twists and turns, and “Locked Up” turns into a decent thriller that revolves around a character that it is impossible not to care about. Call it a good script, a good performer or a purposeful director. I prefer to call it a mixture of good ingredients.