Lockout is set in the not-so-distant future, where prisons are in space, the Secret Service is led by a German, and the cracks are wise. The smartass ex-government agent, Snow (Guy Pearce), is held and questioned over a mysterious murder and an even more mysterious briefcase. After a brief interrogation and a thorough beating, Snow is convicted to rot away in orbit on MS One, the first Stasis Prison. See, instead of letting inmates have gang wars and rape each other like it’s going out of style, MS One just puts them all to sleep. While achieving a pretty peaceful space-prison, being in extended stasis apparently does quite the number on your mental capacities.
At the same time, the First Daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), is visiting MS One. She’s there to ensure the humane treatment of the world’s most vile criminals, but her appearance also results in a prisoner breaking loose and freeing the rest of the criminals from eternal nap-time. With the entire space-jail flipped upside down by riots and hostage situations, Snow is given the choice of either being sent to jail or rescuing the President’s daughter from the rapscallions aboard MS One. Naturally, he chooses to rescue Emilie and the adventure begins!
The plot of Lockout is littered with clichés, to a painful degree. From the tough, snarky anti-hero, to the stuck up First Daughter, Lockout fails to bring an original character to the table. Especially when it comes to the leading villains, Alex (Vincent Regan) and Hydell (Joseph Gilgun). Alex is the cool-headed, intelligent leader, while Hydell is the violent, psychotic enforcer. Also, they’re both very Irish and brothers. Naturally, they’re brothers. While the plot itself is technically original, the concepts and events within the plot are not. You’ve seen the basic premise of Lockout over and over, displayed by most prison-oriented action films.
One of the saving graces for Lockout is the dialogue.While there are many written scenes that are cheesy, the script is save by some genuinely funny dialogue. Pearce’s role in the film was to kick ass and deliver zingers, and he was all out of ass. Much like Spiderman, each scene has 3 or 4 one-liners that are spit out at a rapid rate. You’d think this would just add to the terrible script, but it actually became one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film. Pearce’s delivery of the lines was well timed and well needed. Lockout tends to feel more like a 90’s action movie, where the heroes chain smoke and wear eye patches, while calling the bad guys names. Add this to the fact that Lockout never took itself very seriously and you’ve got a moderately enjoyable hour and a half.
Pearce fit right into the role of Snow, becoming a believable character within an unbelievable film. If this role had been cast with any other actor, I feel like this movie may have succumbed to its innate mediocrity. Maggie Grace, surprisingly, did a decent job playing the First Daughter. She kept the character from being too snotty and unlikable, while still making her seem out of place in such a violent situation. Peter Stormare played Langral, the heartless Chief of the Secret Service. While the delivery of Stormare’s performance seemed to fit the character nicely, I couldn’t get past the accent. Stormare has such a distinct accent, it becomes difficult to mask. I’m thinking that the character was supposed to be…Southern? I’m honestly baffled, because Stormare constantly shifted between his natural accent and a strange southern twang. Vincent Regan delivered an average performance for his character, Alex. While his portrayal of the hardened criminal may have been decent, it was completely eclipsed by the ridiculousness of Joe Gilgun. I admit, Gilgun’s character wasn’t that great to start with. We’ve seen this same type of character before: mentally unstable, can’t tell right from wrong, takes pleasure in killing. Unfortunately, Gilgun overplayed the character, inspiring many sighs throughout the audience.
Lockout was a smaller budget film, which became quite noticeable throughout the film. Between the poor visual effects and the unrealistic sounds, the film lags on the technical aspects. That said, Lockout circumvents these shortcomings by keeping the dependence on effects to a minimum. Usually, the camera pans away from the gunfights and there are only a few CGI reliant action scenes. Otherwise, most of the film takes place in the tight corridors of M.S. One. I really can’t say that the dated effects were a problem for me, because the film already requires a strong ability to suspend disbelief.
Lockout doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it does deliver some witty lines and interesting characters. The film may not baffle your mind for days or force you to stare into the abyss of your own human soul, but it simply offers an enjoyable way to kill an afternoon. Strong performances from both Pearce and Grace, combined with some clever dialogue, does make up for the shortcomings in originality. While it may not be worth spending $100 dollars to take the family out to see it, Lockout easily merits at least one viewing.
I give Lockout 3 “Airlock Mishaps” out of 5
By Blake Edwards