If Lockout didn’t have Guy Pearce it would be in real trouble. This space thriller throws more ridiculous punches than you can shake an automatic rifle at, and to be fair it sticks to that ridiculousness the whole way through. However, that doesn’t stop it from being just that – ridiculous.
Nonetheless, as mentioned we do have Pearce as the wise-cracking, foul-mouthed Snow, a kind of 21st century Snake Plissken only not as iconic. You can tell Pearce is having a blast spouting the often very funny one-liners as he tries to save the day against his will but at the same in a “ah, what the hell?” sort of fashion.
His mission, set by the US government, is to infiltrate a prison to rescue to the daughter of the President (what else?) from the crazed inmates who have taken it over. The only problem is, beyond the obvious of course, is that the prison is in space. Yup, that’s right, space.
That should give you a taste of how ridiculous Lockout really is. And it backs that premise up with, for the most part, dodgy CGI and poor, broad strokes characterisation. There’s also a few too many conspiracy sub-plots going on that, in the bulk of the film, are just annoying distractions only then to, by the end, take precedent over what the whole rest of the thing has been about. It’s always irritating when a film throws away all it has worked so hard at building up. What we have here is a movie trying to be too many different things at once and because of that divided attention it never really succeeds in being any of them.
The film comes from the mind of Luc Besson, the once brilliant writer, director and producer (of such films as Leon and The Fifth Element) who has been hit or miss over the last decade. He has come up with a cool concept for a movie that only works in small doses here and there (perhaps that’s down to the directors, James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, not Besson himself) but never quite comes together as it should. And the fact that it’s terribly derivative of so many other far better sci-fi movies, reminding us of everything from Escape From New York to Minority Report, only makes things worse.
If it weren’t for Pearce in a role I’d very much like to see him reprise at some point, Lockout would be pretty tough to sit through. Luckily Pearce is on fine-form, almost in a completely different movie than everyone else (who are mostly at various degrees of miscast), to punctuate and elevate the otherwise throwaway thrills.