Review: 'Lockout'

By: Heather Seebach

Lockout is a film that aims to emulate sci-fi actioners of the 1980s (e.g. Escape from New York). And emulate it does, drawing upon many films before it. The result is a very derivative action movie, marred even further by some laughably bad dialogue and FX. The flick can claim one success, however - Guy Pearce's hero is exactly what I was looking for going in.  If you plan on seeing this film for Pearce, you will not be disappointed. Just don't expect much from the rest of the movie, aside from a few unintended laughs.

Pearce plays Snow, an ex-CIA operative who is being detained for a crime he did not commit. Oy, this sounds familiar already, doesn't it? Meanwhile, the president's daughter, Emily (Maggie Grace), is visiting an outer space penal facility where she suspects prisoners are being mistreated. Shit inevitably goes wrong and the crazies take over the prison, holding Emily hostage. The president then calls upon Snow to infiltrate the prison and rescue his daughter discretely.

Every step of the plot is been-there-done-that. As generic action films go, it has its moments, primarily thanks to Pearce's smart-ass protagonist. Ignore the stupid name for a moment - Snow is a relic of the old action heroes: a tough-talking, cig-smoking, woman-punching bastard-with-a-heart-of-gold. He has some great one-liners, and that perfect combination of bravery and selfishness. Snow really recalls the Kurt Russell anti-heroes of the 80s such as Jack Burton and Snake Plissken.

I loved Pearce every moment he was on-screen. However, he is not enough to save this film from itself. Nor are the other good actors wasted here, such as Peter Stormare (as a CIA head) and Vincent Regan (as the leader of the convicts). There is also some terrible computer-generated FX, most notably a cringe-inducing chase sequence that looks less realistic than most modern cartoons. And it is such an avoidable scene, too, it could have been cut and improved the film alone.

The script itself is riddled with holes and silliness, including some laughably bad dialogue. Sometimes it simply makes no sense, such as, "The force of gravity will hold you up." Or they are just unintentionally funny, like the "twist" revelation that the only two British prisoners among the 500 inmates are, gasp, brothers! Having said that, I must acknowledge I love almost all of Pearce's dialogue. The writing for his character is spot-on, and he delivers some hilarious zingers. As flawed as Lockout is, if the filmmakers were to make a sequel and Pearce was on-board, I would totally go see it.

Obviously, the target audience for this movie is not looking for witty dialogue or a clever plot. Personally, I went in hoping for a great protagonist, and that is exactly what I got. How does it fare on the action? Not so great, unfortunately. Snow spends most of the film running down corridors with Emily, and only faces off with a bad guy a few forgettable times. There is not even a hero versus villain climax! What a shame.

I'm not a huge fan of Lockout but I'm still going to keep my fingers crossed for a sequel, so long as Pearce reprises his role. I would love to see more of this wise-cracking bad-ass, even if it means sitting through another 90 minutes of "meh."

out of 5

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