Lockout is a throwback to all those 80s “tough man on a tough mission” sort of movies. It’s a little bit Commando, a little bit First Blood, and a whole lot Escape from New York. Actually, it’s probably closest to the Escape movie, calling to mind the never-produced, long-rumored third entry in Snake Plissken’s adventures, Escape from Earth. We’ve got a hero in Guy Pearce that only communicates in gunshots and one-liners, a damsel in distress with an agenda on her own, and no one’s loyalties are known for sure. You’ll see every plot twist coming from a mile away, grimace at the idiocy of the central antagonists, and you’ll find yourself scratching your head at more than a few weird plot holes invented mostly to get characters from point A to point B with fewer questions.
But damn, is it ever fun.
Guy Pearce is doing his best lighthearted-Snake Plissken impression as Snow, government agent arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, who’s presented with a simple choice from nebulous government person Langral (PETER FUCKING STORMARE): rot in jail for the rest of your life, or save the president’s daughter (Maggie Grace), who is trapped in the world’s most advanced supermax penitentiary…in the middle of a hostile prison takeover…ORBITING THE VERY EARTH ITSELF. I’m grinning just writing that. It’s such a simple, ridiculous premise in the vein of any number of 80s B-grade-esque action movies. Who are the bad guys? A bunch of prison inmates lead by an old Irish badass (Vincent Regan) and his crazy brother (Joeseph Gilgun). Who are these guys? How did they wind up in prison? Do they have some sort of history? Hell if I know, but they're the bad guys!
Every moment of Lockout is infused with a grinning, knowing cheese. Guy Pearce, as I mentioned, speaks almost exclusively in one-liners. The crux here isn't just that he's all one-liners but rather that his one-liners all happen to be really, really clever. For all the ludicrously stupid stuff happening in Lockout, there's always the sense that it's happening intentionally, as if writer-director pair James Mather and Stephen St. Leger are sitting just off camera, ready to throw out a quick, "Yeah, we know. That was dumb. Just roll with it."
Take the opening sequence, for example. We're cutting between Snow getting the crap beat out of him and his adventure that led him to be arrested for high treason. The more interesting scene is in the interrogation room, as that's where the funnier dialogue is taking place, but as Snow's escape grows bigger and bigger, you really do get the sense that the filmmakers are just using this world and these characters they've made to have a good ball of fun. I'll take this opportunity to mention that the aforementioned opening features possibly the worst scene in the movie, a CGI motorcycle chase through a CGI backdrop that looks more like a Playstation 2 game than a film made in the past five years. It's terribly shot, and the quality of CG is awful. It looks like the scene was playing in really crappy post-converted 3D, except you realize that you don't have the glasses on, and you're just having trouble tracking motion and depth because there's not a single thing in the frame that looks decent.
Fortunately, that's about the last moment where the film fails as an action movie. Every other action sequence is tight and suspenseful, whether it's Snow caught in a firefight with a group of convicts to a face-palmingly stupid/awesome base jump. There's a lot of charming, dumb fun to be had here, and that owes equal thanks to Mather and St. Leger and the cast they've assembled. I really cannot praise Guy Peace's performance enough here. I've always been a big fan of his dramatic roles, and this proves he's got the chops as an action star and the comedic timing of an awesome action star. Every single thing he says is solid gold. Maggie Grace is good enough as the not-so-weak damsel in distress, headed up to the dangerous prison with an agenda of her own. Like Snow, her character's something of an antique, but she works well. And Peter Stormare is, as ever, Peter FUCKING Stormare.
You obviously can't call a film like Lockout perfect, but it's a fantastic movie for a good weekend outing. You've got big action, affable performances, inmates with SPACE...MADNESSS, and a heavy dose of camp. It's certainly a better option than The Three Stooges.
Alec Kubas-Meyer: When I asked Guy Pearce how far into the backstory of Lockout's futuristic society the filmmakers went, he basically told me that I was thinking too much. It didn't matter. That society existed solely so he could go onto a ship with 500 recently unfrozen crazed convicts to save the president's daughter (played by Maggie Grace, who basically plays a spunkier version of her character from Taken), and that's fine. Not much of Lockout's paper-thin plot makes much sense, but it doesn't need to. As a way to get from point A to point B with a couple of witty quips thrown in for good measure, it works well enough. It certainly kept me entertained. My biggest issue is with the CG. What Alex said is, if anything, an understatement. It's absolutely atrocious. But by then end, I really stopped caring. The movie is stupid, cheesy, and very fun. If you have a serious bone in your body, you're going to hate everything Lockout does, but as a way to unwind? It's pretty much perfect. 70 - Good
Matthew Razak - Lockout is a movie that makes almost no sense at all. The plot jumps from illogical decision to downright idiocy and back again so frequently that you start to question how people in the future ever managed to get a prison into outer space in the first place. With decision making this poor, I'd assume humanity would have finally been taken over by the apes. It is a seriously dumb movie. It's also seriously fun. With Guy Pearce doing his best John McClane and throwing out one-liners like it's nobody's business, the film is just enjoyable. The rest of the cast is lackluster at best, but Pearce easily pulls the movie through sheer badass charm. I wish the direction had been a bit better, especially at building up tension and making action sequences click, but what's there is enjoyable enough. 66 - Decent