Runtime: 1 HR, 39 MIN
Director: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Jacky Ido, and Peter Stormare
Lockout on paper looks like the perfect type of film to enjoy in the company of some of your best friends with some pizza, junk food, some beer (root or otherwise), and lots of snarky comments. Unfortunately the filmmakers behind Lockout didn’t consult me on how to make a great modern day B-movie and instead went for the easy money by delivering a neutered PG-13 film that could have a lot more fun than the final product shows. Wrongfully convicted of espionage and murder Ex-CIA Agent Snow is given the choice of being sentenced to a Demolition Man style cryo-prison in space or rescuing the US President’s daughter who is conveniently being held on the same cryo-prison filled with the world’s most violent criminals.
To put it mildly Lockout rips off a lot movies, most notably John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. right down to the latter’s plotline of rescuing the President’s daughter from a prison filled with nutjobs. Screenwriters from Die Hard, Demolition Man, The Rock, Con Air, The Chronicles of Riddick, and Luc Besson’s (writer & producer of Lockout) The Fifth Element should all be checking their mailboxes for a their check for contributing to Lockout’s script. Lockout hits the ball into the atmosphere by not missing a single action movie cliché; everything from the loner hero, the double crossing friend, the enemy who’s actually a friend, the villain with a secret, the well meaning “Cop” who makes a tragic error in judgment, the partner with a dying wish… the list is almost endless and Lockout gets them all. In spite of its hodgepodge script Lockout actually works relatively well considering its aspirations are so low. The character’s are the very definition of one-dimensional, most of the dialogue is beyond ridiculous, and the film’s message is pretty laughable yet the film’s sense of energy and fun is palpable.
Guy Pearce first came to my attention in 1997’s LA Confidential which is a favorite film of mine. His role in that film alone has kept him on my radar and I honestly thought he’d be the breakout star of LA Confidential not Russell Crowe. Even though he isn’t as big of a box office draw as Crowe he’s done pretty well for himself starring in several critically acclaimed films most notably Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Lockout is not the best film to showcase Pearce’s acting skills; the dialogue isn’t all that strong but he still makes the most of what he’s given to work with and manages to put together an entertaining performance filled with some entertaining one-liners.
Most of the other performances are rather hit or miss. LOST’s Maggie Grace is serviceable as the President’s daughter Emilie. LOST fans can attest that emotional range isn’t her strong suit but she is one of the only pieces of eye candy in a film that could most accurately be described as a “sausage-fest.” Veteran character actor Peter Stormare is predictably great in a film where he’s given even less to work with than Guy Pearce. Lennie James, Vincent Regan, and Joseph Gilgun make up the rest of film’s principle cast and once again the term “one-dimensional” comes to mind but like I said before in the context of this film their one-dimensionality isn’t a great hindrance. Lockout really stumbles in two areas with one being more forgivable than the other to me. Firstly, many of the special of effects are woefully bad, so bad in fact that they seem to be a decade out of date. The effects during motorcycle chase through the city reminded me of one of the old mid-nineties motorcycle games where you actually sit on the motorcycle to control the game, it’s really that bad. The space effects don’t fare much better, they seem more inline with Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Wing Commander film which wasn’t exactly cutting edge looking in 1999. I’m a little more forgiving of the special effects considering the Lockout’s modest budget but it’s still a bit jarring to see such bad effects in a film released in 2012.
More unforgivable is the disorienting editing that accompanies almost every act of violence throughout Lockout. I can only assume the severe editing stems from the studios desire to obtain a PG-13 rating but the process repeatedly disrupts the flow of the action. I’d like to see the cut of Lockout that the foreign markets will be showing with regard to the amount violence shown. I can almost guarantee in a few months we’ll see either a ‘R-rated’ or ‘Uncut’ version of Lockout that will feature less disruptive editing and deliver on more of the “goods.” I really wanted to like Lockout a lot more than I did and I’m even more disappointed that I’ll probably see a better version of the film in a few months time on disc. A fun B-movie was spoiled by overly intrusive editing to reach a kid friendly rating that featured only one “fuck” and a lot of bloodless violence. I’m going to give Lockout a very timid recommendation based mostly on the performance by Guy Pearce and considerable amount of guilty pleasure fun I had despite the effects and editing. Approach with caution.