Directors: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Peter Stormare
It is the year 2079 and the President’s daughter has been sent on a goodwill mission to inspect a maximum security prison on a space station orbiting Earth when something goes horribly wrong. All the prisoners, the worst of the worst, are awoken from stasis and overtake the prison. With an all-out attack on the prison far too risky, the only way to save the First-Daughter is to send in one man, disgraced agent Snow, to get her out.
There is nothing new about the central premise to Lockout (it is effectively Escape from New York in space). There are a couple of thinly written subplots – one about the prisoners having brain experiments done on them, the other about the location of a mysterious briefcase which may be able to prove Snow’s innocence – but neither really grab your attention. It is really just that classic story of lone hero rescuing damsel in distress from maximum security space prison.
In this case our lone hero, Agent Snow, is played by Guy Pearce who tries his heart out but still doesn’t quite convince as an action hero. Unfortunately, the character is victim to some of the worst over-writing you will ever see. The tough guy wise crack is a staple of the genre, for sure, but in Lockout the writers seem to have set themselves a challenge to come up with a Snow wise crack reply for every single line of dialogue in the movie. After about 10 minutes he has smashed through loveable rogue and is just getting a bit ridiculous. It must have been particularly difficult for Pearce as he has been in some really well written films over the years (Memento, L.A. Confidential) so would have been only too aware how bad the material he was working with was.
I feel like I’ve seen Lockout many times before, but that not really a problem. Familiarity in films can sometimes be a good thing, particularly in this type of genre movie. The fun is in knowing the formula and seeing how the adhere to it or break from it. The problem with Lockout is that all the movies it reminds you of are better movies than Lockout (I’m thinking about Escape from New York, Die Hard, Alien). If Lockout was a just a bit worse it could have the potential of becoming a cult hit. As it is I think it will just be a below average film which will slip into obscurity.
Rating – ★☆
Review by Duncan McLean