Director Luc Besson seems to have his name attached to every action movie out today. Many would assume that Lockout is a Luc Besson film, and they’d be wrong. The movie certainly employs the basic tropes of a Besson film: surly older action hero saves young girl from harm but we saw how that worked out in the abysmal Columbiana just a few months ago. Lockout isn’t bad it’s just ridiculous and not in a good way like Con Air. Aside from a great turn by Guy Pearce, who excels as an action star, the movie is stupid and over-the-top.
When the President’s daughter (Maggie Grace) is trapped on the space prison known as MS One, it is up to an ex-CIA agent named Snow (Guy Pearce) to save her. Snow has been wrongfully accused and convicted of murder so if he saves the girl the conviction will be overturned. Unfortunately, the most insane criminals are on MS One making Snow’s job all the more difficult.
I’m all for a mindless action movie and if that’s what you’re seeking you can’t go wrong with Lockout. It’s hour and 35 minute runtime keeps the pace brisk and the action booming from beginning to end. The film opens with Snow beating the living crap out of a bunch of guys in a hotel room, and ends with a giant explosion so if you’re an action hound this is your film. Lockout plays a lot like Contraband from a few months ago where the charm of the leading man masks a lot of the film’s problems. The space prison element is handled well and that’s where the strongest elements of the story blossom. It doesn’t matter what happens on the ground, once the hero is in space, the fun begins. Much of the film’s heart wouldn’t be possible without Guy Pearce. He hasn’t been the star of many theatrical films but he proves he should be an action hero. Snow is nothing but a sarcastic pain and he doesn’t change that at the end. His entire character is on his sleeve and Pearce shows he can be a bad-ass.
The problems mostly lie with the crazy script by directors Stephen St. Leger and James Mather. They throw in nothing but problems for Snow to overcome and nothing else. It’s not bad enough that the President’s daughter is trapped in space prison with a bunch of horny inmates. Oh wait, the air is running out on the ship! And did we mention that no one’s piloting said ship and it’s going to crash into Earth? Oh and don’t forget there’s other nameless hostages to save! Where movies like Con Air and Die Hard succeed is that there wasn’t a needless series of hurdles to jump through leaving everything to sound ridiculous and exhausted. At a certain point I was waiting for them to mention that the crashing of the space prison would spark a chain reaction that would unmake existence, the script becomes that laughable. The rest of the actors are either over-the-top (all the bad guys) or lifeless cry babies (Maggie Grace as the President’s daughter). The film ends with a forced implying of a love story…or at least Snow getting to have casual sex with the President’s daughter….and they all lived happily ever after?
I’m giving Lockout a hard time but it is pretty stupid as it roars into home (and boy does it roar). Pearce covers up about 80% of the flaws but the rest is cliché and bad storytelling. The other actors all do their best to stay out of Pearce’s way. It’s a good matinee movie and a solid DVD rental.