In the Lockout trailer, a man with a very deep voice explains the plot, and then a character in the movie says “There’s only one man who can get her out”. And of course, that man is Jason Statha….wait, is that Guy Pearce?!
So here’s the plot of Lockout. There’s a maximum security prison in space, where the world’s most dangerous men serve their sentences in cryogenic stasis (in other words, they are frozen and locked up), and on one particular day, the president’s daughter Emily (Maggie Grace) is there to find out if the prisoners are being treated humanely, or if they are being experimented on. She interviews one prisoner, Hydell (who for whatever reason is a psychopathic Glaswegian, but is played by Englishman Joseph Gilgun) about his experience of the prison, but it goes wrong when he manages to get hold of a gun from a secret service agent. He quickly finds a way to wake up all the prisoners, including his older brother Alex (Vincent Regan, who’s actually Welsh). The prisoners soon take over the prison, and once they realise that Grace is in fact the daughter of the president of the United States, they have their bargaining tool.
Enter Snow, a recently prosecuted former government agent, who is set to become of the prisoners on MS One, unless he chooses to rescue Emily. Snow clearly attended the same sarcasm classes as Snake Plissken, as he is less than enthused by the prospect of boarding a maximum security prison under the control of thousands of dangerous criminals. In fact, he’d rather castrate himself with rocks than do it. It would be a very short film if he just walked away and the president just blew up the prison, so he eventually agrees to the mission.
Lockout is based on a story by Luc Besson, and a quick look through Besson’s filmography will tell you that his ideas vary wildly from the brilliant to the bloody awful. Lockout probably comes in somewhere around the middle, it’s certainly not original or clever, but it is entertaining, thanks mostly to Guy Pearce. It’s a different look and type of movie for Pearce, as we’re used to seeing him in more upmarket roles such as Ed Exley in L.A. Confidential, or Leonard Shelby in Memento. He’s buffed himself up to play Snow, and is clearly having a great time as a wise-cracking, arse kicking anti-hero. Snow just doesn’t care who he annoys as long as he gets what he wants, something that is particularly enjoyable in the way he abuses Emily, despite being sent into space to rescue her. Whether it’s forcibly dying her hair, or making inappropriate gags about oral sex, he just doesn’t really care about Emily’s well-being, just getting off the prison and back down to Earth alive. He has plenty of memorable lines, and handles the action with ease too.
There’s nothing in Lockout that will surprise you, but directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger do a good job of making the film look more expensive than it probably was, and have the kind of stylish flourish to their shots that would suggest a more experienced director was in charge. An early car/bike chase features some shonky CGI, but other than that the film looks great. Lockout is a movie that doesn’t require much from a viewer. You can sit back, relax and just enjoy the ride as Pearce delivers the kind of lines Arnie and Bruce specialised in during the 80s, and beats the crap out of guys like they used to too.
It won’t become your favourite movie, but you could certainly find worse ways to pass 90 minutes.