DIR: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger • WRI: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger, Luc Besson • PRO: Marc Libert, Leila Smith • DOP: James Mather • ED: Camille Delamarre, Eamonn Power • DES: Romek Delmata • Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan
A film like Lockout is an unfortunate one. The audience that this film caters for is already familiar with the story – and have seen it done better. Lockout is an incredibly thinly-veiled rehash of Escape From New York and the lesser Escape From L.A. – indeed, there was supposed to be a third film called, funnily enough, Escape From Earth. The film begins with an amusing opening credits sequence, but one part of it sticks out and is impossible to ignore – ‘Based on an original idea by Luc Besson’. Considering how Harlan Ellison sued both James Cameron and Andrew Niccol for plagiarism, it’s surprising that John Carpenter hasn’t done the same for this film. The only thing different between Lockout and the Escape films is the fact that Guy Pearce isn’t wearing an eyepatch.
The film is set in 2079. Guy Pearce is an ex-government agent who’s been wrongfully accused of killing his friend and mentor. Concurrently, the president’s daughter, Maggie Grace, is headed to a maximum security prison that orbits the Earth in order to ascertain if the prisoners there are being treated humanely. Naturally enough, it goes pear-shaped and Maggie Grace, along with her entourage, are taken hostage. Guy Pearce is soon captured by Peter Stromare and Lennie James and offered a deal – enter the prison, get the President’s daughter out and the charges are dropped. The film’s plot doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny and it’s not really supposed to. ‘Lockout’ is very much B-movie / straight-to-DVD fare; there isn’t much to sing about in terms of both the script and the action scenes. The film features a completely daft motorcycle sequence at the beginning that is so cheap-looking as to be comical. Throughout, the dialogue seems to move out of sync with the actor’s mouth which makes for a jarring experience.
Guy Pearce turns in a decent performance, however this type of script and film is completely beneath him. His character’s dialogue is laced with one-liners and witty comebacks. Most of them are humorous enough, but it’s the sheer rate of their delivery – almost in every scene – that eventually makes it seem annoying. Maggie Grace’s character is something of a non-entity, simply filling up the screen time with the odd reaction shot. As well, Joseph Gilgun and Vincent Reagan, playing two inmates who become the leaders of the prison revolt, add nothing to the overall film. Gilgun’s performance starts off impressive, but it simply follows a single line and never deviates. Reagan is a decent actor and, as with Pearce, this material is clearly beneath his abilities. The direction of the film is riddled with cliches throughout, as is the script. It’s true, Lockout isn’t supposed to be taken seriously. However, the film’s glaring errors and missteps are far too numerous and plentiful to go unnoticed. Avoid.
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