Directed by: James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Jacky Ido, Peter Stormare
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and language including some sexual references
There is a special place in my heart for films that know exactly what they are and set out to fulfill their destiny with utter enthusiasm. “Lockout” is in that class of film. It knows it’s a B-movie sci-fi action flick, and has no pretensions otherwise. There’s no subtlety here, the film is predictable right down to much of its dialog, and the action and one-liners are slathered on thickly.
The story, in a nutshell, is this: in the not-too-distant future, the President’s daughter is held hostage on a prison in space, and a rogue CIA agent must rescue her.
The agent, Snow (Guy Pearce), has been captured for a crime he (of course) didn’t commit. He’s the best they’ve got, but he’s a loose cannon. You can tell, because he wears a t-shirt that reads “Warning: Offensive.” The President’s daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), is idealistic and naïve, but also able to hold and accurately fire a machine gun (prompting Snow to crack, “I thought you were a Democrat!”). The baddies are led by a pair of British criminals, Alex (Vincent Regan) and Hydell (Joseph Gilgun) — who are, respectively, the intelligent, calm sort and the insane, loose-cannon sort. No points to you if you guess why Alex puts up with Hydell when the lunatic keeps messing up his plans. Snow also has to deal with Agent Langral (Peter Stormare), head of the Secret Service, who doesn’t like him but is willing to give the ridiculous rescue plan a shot.
The space prison is created mostly with cheesy CGI effects from the outside and with lots of rambling tunnels, hallways, and shafts folks can fall down on the inside. There’s no real sense of where you are, but that’s irrelevant. It’s disappointing that the film’s effects aren’t better, but it does have the single most important thing a film like this can have: a lead actor who looks like he’s actually enjoying himself. Pearce throws himself headfirst into the ridiculousness that is “Lockout” and never once seems to feel embarrassed by its predictability.
The action sequences are enjoyable, and include gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, knife fights, and the use of in-reach blunt objects like fire extinguishers as weapons. The cinematography for the fights is good, as well — there’s a mix of the up-close-and-handheld filming so popular right now and longer shots that let you keep track of who’s hitting whom and who is actually winning the fight.
Really, if you’re reading this review trying to decide if you want to see “Lockout” or not, the answer is probably that you don’t. This is a movie whose target audience watches its trailers or reads its plot summaries and mutters, “hell yes!” If you’re only on the fence because you aren’t sure if it will be awesomely bad or just plain bad, be reassured that it’s awesomely bad. If you’re on the fence because maybe, just maybe, “Lockout” transcends its genre and has things like character development and a hole-free plot, you will be disappointed.