Director: James Mather & Stephen St. Leger
Writer: James Mather (screenplay), Stephen St. Leger (screenplay), Luc Besson (screenplay & original idea)
Cast: Guy Pierce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Lennie James, Vinent Regan, Joseph Gilgun
A wrongly convicted special agent is tasked with rescuing the President’s daughter after she becomes trapped on board the orbital prison facility MS-One during a prison take over.
When I first saw the trailer for this movie there was an immediate film comparison that came to mind: John Carpenter’s 1981 classic, Escape from New York. There was no escaping it when your hero is a convicted criminal sent out to rescue a person of importance in an isolated maximum security prison. As much as Escape from New York is a classic, it is also rather dated so I was pretty interested in a film doing a more up-to-date take on the basic idea. Seeing as this came from an idea of Luc Besson—which hardly means original or inventive—there is a level of campyness that is to be expected with his movies.
If there’s one word to describe this movie overall, it is ‘fun’ in all definitions of the word. Right off the bat we’re introduced to our main character Snow (played by Guy Pearce) who is a wise-cracking spec ops operative. It’s the kind of scene that helps set the tone for what kind of film we’re going to watch in Lockout. Guy Pearce really takes the material and makes it his own; but at the same time, even though he’s written for a film like this, it really just feels like he’s out of place for the first act of the film.
Up until he meets up with the President’s Daughter Emily Warnock (played by Maggie Grace), Lockout feels like there’s a duality to it. As much as I was having fun following the character of Snow, the same couldn’t be said for someone like Maggie Grace, who I do think is a decent actress, but she is horribly miscast in this movie. The only reason her scenes with Guy Pearce are entertaining is entirely because of Guy Pearce.
Guy Pearce is honestly the only one carrying this movie. Everyone else aside from Peter Stormare just feels like they’re sleepwalking through this film. It’s a real shame because there was potential to do much more with this material, but as I see that the film budget was an estimated $20 million, it’s pretty obvious where most of that went to—its visual effects. The visual effects are really nice for such a small film, but they end up making the film feel hollow as there just isn’t any more substance to the movie without Guy Pearce in it. And as much as there were sequences of pretty good visuals, there were other effects shots that looked really cheesy and on the level of SyFy B-Films, whether intentional or not due to its small budget.
The third act of the film is where Lockout completely fell apart for me. I don’t exactly expect great writing from Luc Besson or the two newbies in James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, but the ending is just one cliche after another. Now I could forgive Lockout for those cliches had it been done in an homage kind of way to the 80’s action films, but I never got that sense from the film overall, so I can’t make that excuse for its ending. If there’s one thing I want to praise its final act for, it’s avoiding one of the biggest cliches of all with the hero kissing the heroine.
I am being rather generous with my rating for Lockout, but it still is an enjoyable movie to watch because of Guy Pearce. It isn’t something I’d recommend for people to go out of their way of to watch in theatres, but if you are interested in checking out this movie I’d say to go the route of renting it out once it hits services like Netflix.
GO Rating: 2/5