[Review] – Lockout

30 Apr

Title: Lockout
Year: 2012
Directors: James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Writers: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger and Luc Besson, based on an original idea by Mr. Besson
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Peter Stormare
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of violence and action, and language including some sexual references
Runtime: 95 min
IMDb Rating: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Metacritic: 48

I like Guy Pearce a good deal. And I like what he’s sort of been doing lately in his career in which he’s taking small-ish supporting roles in amazing films with great ensembles. Whether it’s The Hurt Locker, Animal Kingdom or The King’s Speech, he’s been lending his experience and talent in small key roles and really nailing it. In Lockout, however, he’s front and center as Snow, a man who in a near future has been wrongly convicted of a crime, and who’s only shot at freedom depends on him rescuing the President’s daughter from a maximum security prison in outer space that’s been taken over by inmates.

That’s right, this is a sci-fi action-y thriller-y sort of movie, and even though Mr. Pearce really does try his best to make this all work, this one’s just pretty lousy if you ask me. The film was written by co-directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger alongside, who else, Luc Besson. And the script was based on “an original idea” by Mr. Besson, though there’s really nothing original about Lockout. Because that’s what Mr. Besson has been becoming lately, just churning out screenplays and ideas for flashy and extremely shallow action movies that feel just horribly derivative of a dozen better movies like them to give to young action-oriented filmmakers. Yes, Taken might have been awesome, but this guy should pipe down for a while and have some actual originality come into his “original” ideas.

I mention Taken because the one thing Lockout had me wishing throughout its entire ninety-five minute running time, and I would reckon what Mr. Besson the makers of this one were hoping for, is that this would do for Guy Pearce’s career what Taken did for Liam Neeson‘s. Think about it, two actors who have an accent (Mr. Neeson is Irish, Mr. Pearce is Australian), who were once in movies that seemed would catapult them straight to huge megastardom (Mr. Neeson in Schindler’s List; Mr. Pearce had L.A. Confidential and Memento), but who somehow failed to really achieve that (Mr. Pearce moreso than Mr. Neeson, who still made some good choices).

Mr. Neeson’s career was sort of resuscitated by the huge success of Taken, and he’s become the middle-aged guy who can kick some ass now; it would have been nice to see Lockout do that for Mr. Pearce, to get us to see him in a different light as this kind of leading man, but it just won’t. Oh, and if it wasn’t clear enough that this was trying to be Taken but set in the future, they both even have Maggie Grace as the girl the male heroes are trying to save.

Lockout is just way too effin loud. The pacing is always set at a hundred miles per hour and gets old seriously fast, the editing is horrible and feels like you’re just cutting away to different camera angles in a poorly designed video game, and the special effects seem to come out the same cheap video game. There are too many explosions and just non-stop action here, these two directors love that, but because of how horribly it’s all edited half the time you won’t know exactly where you are or how something went down or what the hell just happened.

I won’t, however, give this one a failing grade. I was so sure I was going to, but then halfway during the movie I realized I was having fun seeing this. Granted, I was having fun at the expense of the film and not really because it was achieving what it set out to do, but still, this one offers B-movie-type thrillers with an anti-hero just battling his way through baddies inside a space prison trying to rescue a damsel in distress. Just look at the plot when it’s dissected like that, it’s too damn ridiculous not to find somewhat entertaining.

I won’t go into the plot for this one because: a) it doesn’t really matter all that much, and, b) it’s all recycled stuff borrowed from far better movies, a few of which were also made Mr. Besson, so you can guess who it’ll all go down. The thing is the villains in this film and the situations that Snow finds himself pitted against are all just totally forgettable. And even if Mr. Pearce seems to be totally game for giving this one his best shot and committing to the stupid stuff that’s being asked of him it does absolutely nothing to elevate it to something resembling a decent film. This is a good actor, and his presence alone makes this one better than it should otherwise be, but you just don’t know why he wasted his time making it.

Lockout is just a total waste of time. A film that offers some B-movie thrills by using a series of plotlines and contraptions that have been executed countless times before and in far more impressive fashion. Another film that carries Luc Bresson’s name, and even though he’s just one of three writers in this one, and doesn’t have a hand in its direction, his name alone has come to signify a very specific (and repetitive) sort of brand that I’m getting really tired of (though I’m still seeing Taken 2 when it comes out). And for Guy Pearce this was a terrible failed attempt to get him to become an action leading man. But, hey, at least he has a small role in Prometheus later this year, and we know how great he’s been in pivotal supporting roles lately. Maybe that’s his niche.

Grade: C-

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2 Responses to “[Review] – Lockout”

  1. AndyWatchesMovies May 2, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Going to wait for the Blu-Ray on this one. Some people seem to have loved it, but it just doesn’t sound like something I need to see any time soon.

    • ArtfullyBedraggled May 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      Yeah, if you actually want to check it out I’d say wait for the Blu-Ray, too.

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