Lockout is a non-sensical, direct-to-video, video game-esque sci-fi actioner that appears to have been written in a matter of hours, filmed over a couple of days and glossed up in a month’s worth of post-production. This is, quite simply, not a very good movie. Yet, somehow, Guy Pearce playing the sardonic hero with all the good lines, makes everything seem as if it’s not so bad. He’s unable to save the film to the point you can look passed the obvious dialogue and overcooked plot, but if I were to catch this on television one night I probably wouldn’t change the channel… at least not right away.
Set in the year 2079, Lockout begins with ex-CIA agent, Snow (Pearce), being interrogated for a crime that isn’t all that it seems (when is it ever?). Fortunately for him, his scheduled imprisonment aboard the space prison MS One, where the convicts are kept in a state of stasis for the duration of their sentence, is cancelled when one convict manages to escape and free all several hundred other convicts, causing a riot and hostage situation wherein one of the hostages just so happens to be the daughter of the President of the United States (Maggie Grace). Obviously.
How did the President’s daughter manage to find herself aboard a maximum security space prison in the middle of the riot? Well, instead of bothering with the details let’s just say it happened and you accept it. After all, that’s what you’re going to have to do with the majority of this film anyway.
So, with chaos in space, the Secret Service, led by Peter Stormare, drafts Snow to go aboard the station, save the President’s daughter and get out of there before an all-out assault is launched to hopefully regain control of MS One and save the hundreds of people being held hostage. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Just strap on the space suit, find the hatch, find the girl, avoid the bad guys, get in the escape pod and Bob’s your uncle.
But wait, one of Snow’s accomplices is also aboard MS One, he’s going to have to save him as well (unbeknownst to the Secret Service) considering he holds the secret to everything! This is going to be more complicated than we originally thought. Drat!
For anyone that has seen one of Luc Besson’s “original” ideas before, you realize they aren’t so original as this one will be compared to Escape from New York by virtually everyone that sees it and it’s not as if films such as Taken, From Paris with Love, Colombiana, Transporter and others were exactly unique properties either. But there is something about a Besson production that manages to hold a small level of appeal, some films to a greater degree than others, and the folks he gets to direct such as Pierre Morel (Taken), Louis Leterrier (Transporter) and Olivier Megaton (Colombiana) are somehow able to keep things moving at a quick enough clip to keep you entertained despite the stupidity all around you. Lockout writer/director duo James Mather and Stephen St. Leger are no different.
The biggest strong-suit here is some snappy dialogue delivered by Pearce, which is alternatively working against the rest of the script, which is so downright awful its laughable in every sense of the word.
In one scene has Snow receiving directions through his headset and the voice on the other end of the line says something along the lines of, “It is vitally important you go the right way –” before the connection is cut, at which point Snow goes… yep, the wrong way. Another moment features one character with a bullet wound in her leg, which someone attends to by putting a coat on her shoulders. What? A coat, but the bullet is in her leg! All you can do is laugh.
The primary villains are played by Scottish actors Vincent Regan and Joe Gilgun, playing brothers. One is calm, cool and collected and the other is batshit insane. We learn of their relationship in a scene you’ve seen a thousand times before as one man asks, “Why don’t you kill that psycho?” “Because he’s my brother.” Dun, dun, dun…
The visual effects range from extraordinarily weak and video game-y such as an opening chase sequence that moves at such a quick clip your eyes are likely to need help readjusting, to some decent space effects and a final sequence that only needed Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon to essentially replay the Star Wars Death Star attack.
In the end, the film is mildly salvaged due to the fact Guy Pearce treats it dead seriously. He owns the stupidity to the point it’s hard to believe he was able to keep a straight face, but the film is watchable as a result. You are unlikely to come out telling your friends they need to rush out and see it, but for everything that’s wrong with it, at least you can laugh and enjoy what Pearce brings to the table.