Movie Review: Lockout

Of all the names characters are given in action movies (Rambo, Snake, Dutch), I don’t think I’ve ever thought one was as cool and as stupid at the same time as Guy Pearce’s character in Lockout. Are you ready for this? Snow. Every time he was addressed I started laughing. But the way I feel about his name also accurately sums up how I feel about the film itself. It’s ridiculous, over-the-top, and full of genre cliches; but it’s fun. And that was all I was wanting out of it.

MS-ONE is a maximum security prison that orbits the earth, keeping the most dangerous criminals in cryo-statsis, asleep until their release, if they’re ever released at all. The president’s daughter (Maggie Grace) is visiting on a sort of humanitarian mission, to make sure even the worst criminals are being treated humanely. As if you couldn’t guess, things go wrong and the prisoners take over. Enter the smug, quick-witted Snow, a man recently convicted of espionage, while he proclaims his innocence. He’s the only one that can get into MS-ONE, retrieve the president’s daughter, and safely get her back to her daddy. Can Snow make it past the murderers and rapists and get her out in time?

You’ll know what this movie is from the trailer. The voiceover being: “Our only chance is SNOW. But there’s a problem: He’s a loose cannon.” But I’ll give you a heads up; while that is a dead-on description of the character, nobody ever says that in the actual movie. But that’s how these things go, don’t they? A smooth talking criminal with an eye for detail is given a mission that NOBODY else can handle. But don’t think this mission and his high-and-mighty superiors are going to be able to take away his reckless attitude and smart-aleck comments. Oh no- this man is cool. If you punch him in the face, no biggie. He’ll probably make a joke. A joke?? Oh, heeeck no, getting punched in the face hurts! But he doesn’t even care!” Peter Stormare plays the director of the Secret Service and he’s always solid. He so good at accents, I had to look up where he was born to know where the heck he’s actually from and how he actually talks. It’s Sweden, by the way. He’s the tough-talking, threat-giving, hard nosed guy in charge of Snow who’s constantly reminding Pearce what will happen if he doesn’t succeed. The group of convicts are run by a couple Scottish murderers (…I think? They never say) played by Joseph Gilgun and Vincent Regan. They play the parts well, Joseph Gilgun speaking in his accent so heavily he’s hard to understand often times. But it doesn’t really take away from the movie either.

Any mistake or cheesiness you come across feels as though it’s done purposely which is where this movie finds it’s strength. We’ve seen the characters, the story, the dialogue in a thousand films, comics, and books before. But being that this film seems to know it’s place, so to speak, it’s flaws and corniness feel forgivable. If you don’t walk out in the chase scene we’re introduced to within the first five minutes of the film, you’ll survive the rest. The film takes place in the year 2079, but I don’t believe the budget was as big as the ideas were ambitious. The cars and futuristic helicopters chasing Snow might actually look worse, or as bad as, Playstation graphics. Yes, the first Playstation. But like I said, get through that, and you can accept anything else they throw your way.

Guy Pearce will walk the love/hate line for people in this one. Some will find him hilarious, others will see him as just lame. I don’t think in this entire movie, does he have a line that isn’t a one liner or a sarcastic remark. It’s actually hard for me to recall them because there really are so many, and they’re definitely hit and miss. But being that he has so many chances with his lines that eventually, you’re bound to hear one that you think is funny. There’s the trailer’s “What if this doesn’t work? Snow: Well, then we’re probably gonna die.” and possibly my favorite of the movie, as he sends the president’s daughter on her way while handing her apple juice (No, I’m not giving anything away.), “Here’s some juice and a gun. Don’t talk to strangers.” Some occasional genuine twists also pop up as well, which is always welcome.

I found, as many people have, that this movie incorporated many previously seen elements from the action genre, as stated above. It doesn’t even limit itself to movie alone. While some say it’s Escape from New York (1981), others will say they recognize the plot from one of the newest Batman games. I actually it to be strikingly similar to one of the few anime series I’ve ever been a fan of, Cowboy Bebop. It seemed to be a mashup of several episodes but one in particular where a group of convicts take over a police ship and start making demands before the protagonist has to break in and save the day. But no matter what you may feel this is a rip-off of, the bottom line is that it’s possible to be entertained by this. As I’ve mentioned with several movies before, to appreciate this, a person shouldn’t go in thinking this will change their view of movies, but rather, just take it for what it is; fun, campy, and loud.

Stars: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare

Rated PG-13 for violence and language, Running time 1 hour, 50 minutes, Action/Adventure

Plays like: Escape from New York (1981), Con Air (1998)

Grade: C

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