All too often with action movies there is an imbalance between good story, pulse-pounding action and believable writing. While Lockout hits some of the marks spectacularly, others it misses entirely. Lockout will never develop into an action/sci-fi classic, but it proves to be a semi-decent weekend rental.
In the year 2079, CIA agent Snow (Guy Pearce) is being interrogated over his involvement in another agent’s death. Back in New York, Snow and Frank (Miodrag Stevanovic), the other agent, were ambushed at a hotel, where Frank was murdered over a mysterious briefcase. Snow narrowly escaped the firefight and made off with the case, only to be apprehended by the CIA at a subway station moments after handing it off to an associate. After his refusal to name said associate, Snow is convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in MS1.
In orbit, the U.S. President’s daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), is paying a visit to MS1, a floating space prison where the inmates are put to sleep for the duration of their sentence. Emilie and her Secret Service entourage are visiting to investigate rumors that the sleep process has dangerous side effects. In an effort to disprove the allegations, the warden allows her to interview an inmate fresh out of the prison’s specialized stasis.
The prisoner, Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), is placed on the other side of a protective enclosure. During the interview, Hydell becomes more agitated and violent. The inmate manages to grab an agent’s gun, blast his way through the barrier and gain access to the control room. There, Hydell holds a hapless technician at gunpoint and, with very little convincing, is able to get the technician to pull every prisoner in MS1 out of stasis.
The newly freed prisoners easily outnumber the guards, who aren’t equipped to deal with non-sleeping inmates. Quickly, the situation escalates as the prison turns into a war zone. Inmate Alex (Vincent Regan) takes the remaining prison staff hostage and, with his band of loyal but violent prisoner pals, takes control of the prison and starts making demands.
Back in the Oval Office, the President gets word that his daughter Emilie is a hostage aboard MS1. He gives orders to delay all military intervention until his daughter—his only daughter—is safe and sound. For some strange reason, the CIA decides their best bet would be to send agent Snow to rescue Emilie and return to earth in time for the military to blow MS1 to kingdom come.
While sporting certain spots of smart dialog, majority of the script by Luc Besson (Léon: The Professional, Taken) and first-time feature film writers Stephen St. Leger and James Mather (who also co-directed the film) is either nonsensical or cliché. Motives are unclear or flat out unbelievable, while characters are mostly flat and frustratingly simple. Although the movie offers a few twists and turns, the bulk of Lockout is predictable and never strays from the genre staples, the most annoying being the whiny and useless damsel in distress.
Guy Pearce does a good enough job as Snow, the ex-agent trying to get through a job he hates. The problem here never lies with the actors, though—instead, the blame lies entirely on the weak script. Vincent Regan and the other inmates do their best to prop up the cardboard baddies, but with this script their efforts are futile.
Action is Lockout’s saving grace, with cardboard bad guys making great targets. It’s a shame that action can’t hold a movie alone, though, and that Lockout doesn’t seem to recognize its own shortcomings. Instead of going full throttle on the action, too much time is wasted on a bad script. However, despite the cheesier moments, Lockout is never too weighed down, occasionally picking itself up by the bootstraps and having a good old time.
Lockout is now available as an unrated DVD (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, MSRP: $30.99) and Blu-ray (MSRP: $35.99), both with UltraViolet digital copy and two behind-the-scenes featurettes. “A Vision of the Future” is a 10-minute look into the film’s futuristic world, with a detailed overview of all the cool locations used in the movie. Fans more into the sci-fi aspects of the film will find that this featurette covers all the best Lockout has to offer. “Breaking into Lockout,” meanwhile, is a sort of overview of the process of working on set and directing, and a look at the characters. A bit all over the place, the making-of featurette is too short to really delve deeply into the film. What’s shown seems like just the start of something, not the complete version.
isn’t going to be the next Blade Runner, but for a sweet night in, it may be worth investing in a rental.
Lockout is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.