Lockout is essentially Escape from LA or Escape from New York, but in space. With solid performances from reliable stars and a predictable but still effective script, it’s not as big a blockbuster as it wants to be, but it’s entertaining.
Now the deets:
Released April 14, 2012
Written by Stephen St. Leger, James Mather, and Luc Besson (From Besson’s idea)
Directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Starring: Maggie Grace, Guy Pearce, Lannie James, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan, and Joseph Gilgun
* * * * *
Snow (Pearce) is a top-notch agent who has just been mistakenly convicted of espionage and treason. He is a master of one-liners and pretty much spends the movie offering them in place of conversation. It would be nice to know why he is so taciturn and gruff, but the movie doesn’t take the time to help the audience understand this main character, which is a shame. Anyway, there’s a MacGuffin of a briefcase that Snow wants to track down, but he is about to be sent to frozen space prison.
Emilie (Grace) is the president’s daughter and is on a compassionate investigative mission of a space prison. She’s concerned that the cryogenically frozen inmates are being mistreated and that fishy things might be going on with them. While she’s on the space prison, the prisoners stage a takeover of the place, killing lots of people. When they realize who Emilie is, they start trying to make some fairly fuzzy demands. Indeed, we never really know what it is the prisoners want.
Suddenly, Snow is needed. Langral (Stormare), the chief of the spy agency, is hesitant to send the rogue to rescue the president’s daughter, but Shaw (James) thinks Snow is the One Man who can do the job. Snow gets the job, but is on a deadline because Langral is going to attack the place, and then later blow it up.
So we end up with Snow and Emilie trying to escape the space prison, pursued by baddies, and Snow also trying to find his buddy who may or may not have hid the MacGuffin briefcase before being caught and sent to the space prison.
First off, the fact that this takes place in space is not used enough. There are not enough gravity, depressurization, and other space-centric plot twists thrown in. Second, Pearce is a capable actor and is convincing, particularly with his extra beefiness, but I would have liked to know more about who he was. I wanted more conversation out of him, longer moments where he could explore the character better, and a lot more conversation. Seriously, having a guy speak in one-liners through the entire movie is a mistake.
This movie is also a little Die Hard-esque, since you have a tough-as-nails cop guy being misunderstood by the authorities and underestimated by the bad guys and wandering a place taking out baddies bit by bit. But where John McClane’s motivations are totally obvious and really drive his character, that is not the case with Lockout‘s Snow. Also, McClane gets beat up and feels it, while Snow gets beat up but shakes it off every time.
Maggie Grace’s Emilie is a very nice piece of acting and writing, however. She’s compassionate and wants to make a difference. She’s tough, but also vulnerable.
The story is predictable, but not annoyingly so: the bad guys get their comeuppance, the good guys win, and the action is well-paced.
So all in all, Lockout hits the mark, but doesn’t go beyond the mark in any substantive way. It’s an entertaining and forgettable film.
Content warnings: plenty of violence- none of it gory, some language
Writing: 3.5 Acting: 4 Overall: 3.5
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