Tuesday, August 14, 2012


April 13, 2012
95 min
United States (English)

Directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Written by Luc Besson, James Mather and Stephen St. Leger

Not only is "Lockout" another inane action/thriller from producer Luc Besson, it hardly deserves to be called a thriller at all. Guy Pearce just may be the only redeeming quality about this hodgepodge and even then only part of the time.

When covering the trailer for "Lockout" earlier this year I staked my claims down in the optimistic camp. Part of me wishes I had remained the previous me who did not actually watch the film in its entirety. My wife threw in the towel five minutes in. "Not my kind of movie," she simply said before leaving the room. Later that night I commended her on that choice.

"Lockout" follows a former CIA agent Snow (Guy Pearce, who completely commits to the role) in over his head and facing accusations of killing an undercover agent. Snow, who is the biggest smart arse on Earth, is to be sent to a high-security prison in orbit around the Earth: MS One. In the mean time, Emile Warlock (Maggie Grace, who feels like she is rehearsing in any given scene) is visiting this very prison to check up on the treatment of prisoners. Did I mention she is also the president's daughter? Let's put her in the same room as an extremely dangerous inmate to conduct interviews for the sake of humanitarian work with an easily-provoked secret serviceman! If half-witted plotting like this does not bother you then perhaps the unintelligence of the characters and writing for the rest of the film won't either.

Agent Snow is then chosen to save the president's daughter. I mean, even though he is a suspected traitor and all he is heading there anyway, why not? Guy Pierce is a fine actor and he does the best with what he is given, even if half of his myriad one-liners seem to have come straight from the reject pile at the Laffy Taffy company. The uprising on MS One  comes straight from the overused playbook as a hierarchy struggle proves to be more problematic than a prison that should have never been dubbed "maximum security."

Even if the storyline is complete nonsense in the light of day at least we still have some "dumb yet fun" action to enjoy, right? Hardly. An early motorcycle chase is marred by ugly visual effects - think last generation video games, which is saying a lot in the very year of release. It is one thing to say a film's CGI has not aged well, but as a contemporary product this is sometimes shoddy. (That said, some glimpses we get of MS One are rather stellar.) Moreover, the movie cuts on gunshots (no doubt to earn its PG-13 rating) again and again, never delivering on the violence. Since logic was already lost in orbit I suppose it is no big deal if gravity does as well. Where this film goes is the cherry on top to a sundae of stupidity.

As if all of that weren't enough the movie spends its final minutes explaining a lackluster reveal and then a fruitless twist. Neither Agent Snow or the President's daughter would be foolish enough to spend any more time with one another but you'll never guess how the movie ends. MS One was a neat concept and Pearce is an enjoyable presence, but there are far too many grievances to be had with "Lockout" to merit anything close to a pass.


CONTENT: intense violence and brief strong language

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