Directors: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Writers: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger, and Luc Besson
Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Peter Stormare
Cinematography: James Mather
I may have mentioned a few times how much I love action movies. Being raised in a household where all my father can stay awake for are explosions and terrible tough guy dialogue, they hold a soft spot in my heart. Which is why I was sort of looking forward to renting Lockout, which features the great actor Guy Pearce. Since the film also has Maggie Grace, I sort of thought that this movie was along the same lines as Taken with Liam Neeson. It certainly sounds sort of the same: dumb girl gets trapped somewhere and a tough guy has to get her out of it. Being that it’s set in the future where prisons are kept in a space station above the Earth, I was also under the impression that there would be some cool special effects. Considering the movie didn’t do that great at the box office, it usually means that it doesn’t live up to expectations. But you never know, perhaps this movie’s greatness just wasn’t recognized by the general public. So with high hopes I ran to my neighborhood RedBox to hand over a hard earned free rental text to pay for an awesome ass-kicking experience.
In the distant future, the United States builds a prison space station that houses violent criminals in “stasis” – which means that they’re asleep for their term. It is hailed as the safest prison in the world, where there is no inmate crime and no possibility of escape. While on a humanitarian mission, the president’s daughter Emily Warnuck (Maggie Grace) wishes to speak with a few of the prisoners to determine whether they are being treated fairly by being put in a coma for their sentence. When one of the incredibly violent convicts escapes and then sets free the entire prison full of murderers, Emily is caught up in a hostage situation. The president decides to send in Agent Snow, a former member of the secret service who is wrongfully accused of espionage. It’s a race to bring back the girl before the convicts figure out who she truly is.
The man definitely has some swagger as he rescues the fair maiden from the space ship. Guy Pearce has some great one-liners throughout the film which will have you smiling. I’ve been a fan of Pearce for a while because not only is he a great actor and very cute, he’s also done some really awesome stuff (I recently watched The Adventure of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert again – the man can play drag queen with shocking ease). While Lockout certainly will never be one of his classics, he certainly carries the film for me. There’s really no other reason to watch it other than his sarcastic comments and hot handling of a gun. I’m surprised to learn that Pearce can hold his own in the hand to hand combat department, throwing punches with the best of them. He’s a great action star, who can throw jokes and round house kicks without looking like an idiot.
This is especially evident during the first few scenes. There’s supposed to be a futuristic motorcycle chase where Guy Pearce’s Snow is evading the police. Unfortunately it looks like some terrible computer graphics were used to create the super-speedy bikes and patrol cars, not to mention the weird wind tunnel they’re traveling in. While the space station looks pretty cool, there really aren’t a lot of effects shots that look anything beyond what any ordinary nerd can create on their old computer. Another thing that kind of bothered me was the fact that they’re weren’t really a lot of realistic action scenes. For instance, when the prisoner breaks out of confinement there’s no one around to actually stop him from waking up the entire ship full of convicts. He just moseys on down the hall and pushes a few buttons after taking care of the few guards that were actually watching him during his interview with the president’s daughter. How does that happen when you’re in a high security prison? I suppose most of the inmates are unconscious, but there should still be some sort of protection just in case they wake up. It was just a little too easy, and it takes you out of the action if you’re questioning your television about how ridiculous it is.
Can’t Understand that Scottish Guy
Now the movie does actually have a really cool looking bad guy who plays the crazy inmate who starts the ball rolling on the mass killing and hostage situation. He looks cookoo for cocoa puffs the whole time, and he does some fairly gruesome things. The only problem is that half the time, you can’t actually understand what the hell he’s saying. Both the main villains have a Scottish accent, but in the case of Sir Crazy Pants that accent is so thick it’s unintelligible to normal human ears. His accomplice is not nearly so hard to understand, which is why it makes it a little improbable that they’re actually related. Listening to the madman can get a little annoying, especially if you’re one of those types that likes to actually comprehend the dialogue.
The plot of this action movie should be relatively simple understand: girl gets trapped, boy must save her, ass kicking ensues. But instead they add this whole back story of Snow, how he’s wrongfully convicted for a crime and has to go on the space station for a witness as well as the president’s daughter. All of that only really becomes clear at the end, because in the beginning of the movie you’re going to be a little lost as to what’s going on. We really don’t need to see the details of these characters, I just want to see some explosions and some punches. If you’re going to make a good action movie, keep it to the basics. That way everyone can go home happy.
Now, I may be a little biased towards Maggie Grace since I’ve seen her in Taken a million times. If you haven’t seen the Liam Neeson action movie, she plays his idiot daughter who makes it incredibly easy for herself to get kidnapped by international sex traffickers. Her daddy has to go all bad ass to save her, killing lots of people in some great fight scenes. She’s the worst part of that movie, simply because every time you see it you want to smack her for being such a silly brat. Well, it’s sort of the same thing with her role in Lockout. While she’s plays a more “mature” humanitarian, she’s still kind of dumb. At least it’s not really her mistake that ends up setting free a bunch of violent criminals. But she certainly doesn’t help matters by refusing to listen to the people trying to rescue her. Emily Warnock is a bleeding heart liberal who wants to save the criminals from being put to sleep for their prison time because it could “hurt” them. But she doesn’t really mind killing them if they’re trying to attack her. That and the whole time she’s whining about criminal rights and being noble, you kind of expect Liam Neeson to show up again. Guy Pearce does a great job saving her, but there’s something about Neeson’s gruff “give me back my daughter” approach that makes you wish he could pop up in this lackluster movie to save the audience. Unfortunately for Maggie Grace, she’s on her own this time.
Buy It, Rent It, Skip It
As you can probably tell, there isn’t a lot going for this movie. While Guy Pearce is pleasantly funny, this action movie is lacking in everything else. If you’re terribly bored one night you can probably rent this to make fun of. But more than likely you’re going to want to skip it.
Overall: 1.5 stars out of 5
Lockout is lacking in a few crucial areas. While there are some smart and funny comments, it doesn’t entirely make up for a plot and a villain you can’t understand and action sequences that don’t quite make the cut. Add to that a damsel in distress that is a little too annoying to want to save, and you’ve got a barely intelligible movie with some fight scenes thrown in to make it look interesting. It’s too bad Guy Pearce’s talented smirk is wasted on such a silly movie.