MattGalvatron's Review of LOCKOUT
Is this our generations "Escape from NY" or just another "Colombiana"? From Luc Besson and the producer of "Taken" comes the hot new sci-fi Lockout. Can Guy Pearce rescue president's daughter from a maximum-security space prison or this movie?
“Lockout” is a sci-fi action thriller; think “Escape From New York” in space. It is basically the same movie minus the hard R. In the near future, the world has decided to put its criminals in a US-operated maximum-security prison under cryostasis. The president’s daughter, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace, Lost), is on board the prison investigating the effects of cryosleep on the convicts in what is supposed to be a harmless PR stunt to appease critics oo the prison. Of course, things go wrong and the convicts end up taking over the space prison and hold the president’s daughter hostage. Guy Pierce stars as Snow, an ex-CIA operative who is framed for murder. Secret Service chief Scott Langral, (Peter Stormare) believes Snow is a traitor, but with the persuasion of Secret Service agent Harry Shaw (Lennie James), offers him the option to save the presidents daughter from the crazy space convicts, in a one-man mission “because if they sent in a team, she would be killed.”
The problem with “Lockout” is it feels like most Luc Besson-produced films. It is a cool idea with so-so execution, a limited budget, and a PG-13 rating to ensure ticket sales. The movie never does anything with its premise; it starts with a pretty cool action scene (though the special effects leave a lot to be desired) but does nothing once in space, outside of a few explosions and brief external battle sequences. The sets feel small and cheap, and when they try to show anything grander we are left with disappointing Syfy Channel-looking CGI, so it is safe to say none of the action pieces deliver. The villains are also pretty forgettable and not the most intelligent. In one scene, the main baddie and more intelligent of the villains, a very "Gary Oldman" from The Professional-esque character (Vincent Regan) is chasing the leads, who duck around a corner, not even attempting to conceal themselves, and the villain literally walks right by them. The prison is heavily armed and has the potential to be a force against those who wish to stop them, but they never utilize the command present in order to accomplish any sort of goal.
The whole “space” thing just is never used to its potential, and sadly a lot of cool ideas are never fleshed out. The action pieces move quickly – one scene is straight out of "Pulp Fiction." Snow has to administer a shot of adrenaline to Maggie Grace through her eye. The scene could have been grotesque or intense but is simply over before it starts. Most action scenes are like this. In another scene, they disguise Grace to look like a man in order to sneak her through the main holding area of the prison, but again, they are caught within minutes and a shootout occurs. It’s as if they came up with a ton of cool ideas but none of them were executed with any substance, timing, or pace. They brush through thoughts and scenes so quickly we don’t have time to care. Because of this, however, we are never bored and the movie in general is a pretty entertaining action film. The “space” aspect was perhaps just something to lure people in.
The film’s main redeeming quality is Guy Pearce as Snow. Pearce got in amazing shape for the film and actually does very well as an action lead. He is sort of reminiscent of a John McClain from “Die Hard” spitting zingers with each baddie he offs. In the opening sequence, the audience is introduced to Snow while Langral is interrogating him and you immediately like him. The asshole one-liners Snow shoots at his interrogators give you the impression that Snow is a guy with absolutely no interest in cooperation or playing the game by the rules, but instead making up his own rules to amuse himself. Pearce’s comedic timing is perfect and you cannot help but laugh with almost every cheesy one-liner. In the end, the film is fun, moves at a quick pace and is not the worst way to spend a couple of hours. It is harmless, just like Luc Besson’s “Colombiana,” “The Transporter,” “96 Hours,” and the rest. If you liked those safe PG-13 action flicks then “Lockout” is for you. Everyone else may want to wait to Redbox it.
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