Simple is usually better when it comes to thrillers. If you start spending more time trying to figure out the plot or character motivations and less time sitting on the edge of your seat, the seams start to appear.
The low-budget crime thriller “Locked In” keeps things simple, lean and mean for the first half of the film, but then the momentum stalls and the whole thing begins to unravel very quickly.
Mena Suvari stars as Maggie, a down-on-her-luck, single mother who is making ends meet by working at a storage unit facility.
Maggie’s boss Lee (Bruno Bichir) turns out to be a pretty shady dude who hides stolen goods for criminals in the storage units.
Things go sideways when Maggie and her teenaged daughter Tarin (Jasper Polish) show up at the office at the same time as two menacing and violent diamond thieves, Mell and Ross (Jeff Fahey and Manny Perez), who are looking for their latest score that’s been stashed in one of the storage units.
As a game of cat and mouse plays out between Maggie, Tarin, Mell and Ross the situation ratchets up in intensity.
To this point, “Locked In” is a pretty decent movie. The performances are solid and writer/director Carlos V. Gutierrez does a good job of increasing the tension while revealing more and more about the characters (especially Maggie’s difficult past).
But the simplicity that serves this movie well in the beginning quickly begins to work against it as the situation gets resolved, then unresolved and then just plain stupid as Gutierrez works really, really hard to squeeze and additional 45 minutes from this thin premise.
We even go as far as introducing another shady character (Costas Mandylor) just so everyone can find new ways to make questionable and increasingly boneheaded decisions.
It’s disappointing because what was once a promising, taught little thriller becomes a chaotic mess where it’s hard to care what happens to anyone involved.
“Locked In” is a movie that more than delivers right up to the point that it runs out of ideas. Then there’s not much left to do but check your watch.
“Locked In” is rated R for violence and language throughout.