Let’s get this out of the way, Lockout isn’t a great film, but regardless, it’s still awesome -yep, that’s right, awesome! I would happily unravel my intestines -and with gleeful joy -if it meant a sequel being greenlighted. It’s that damn good!
Lockout’s premise should conjure up one film (or maybe two) and that’s John Carpenter’s cult classic Escape from New York, but with a side order of fries, in the shape of Die Hard’s Nakatomi Towers (although minus Hans Gruber).
In reality though, it turns out Lockout is probably more comparable to John Carpenter’s, not-so-cult-classic-sequel Escape from LA -and not even Bruce Campbell’s mighty-white chin could save that film -and yet, despite the fact it’s a little bit rubbish, Lockout is a lot of fun. It’s a total blast and still totally, totally… Awesome!
Anyway, the story goes something like this The year is 2079 and CIA agent Marion Snow is wrongly convicted (and without trial) on charges of murder and espionage -not acts of terrorism, which was surprising. For his ‘crimes’, Snow is sentenced to serve 30 years in MS1 -a maximum security space prison. You know, kind of like San Quentin, but without an appearance from Johnny Cash. However, before Snow can be transported off to MS1, the president’s daughter is kidnapped, on a routine excursion to that very space prison, which just so happens to have been overrun by the inmates -shucks, who’d believe it, right? And so, in all their wisdom, the secret service decide to make a deal with Snow, offering him his freedom if can rescue the president’s daughter, before the lunatics kill her.
It should go without saying from the trailer alone that Guy Pearce owns this film. Without Pearce, there would be no Snow; Pearce is the film’s backbone. If it weren’t for Pearce’s boyish bravado, Lockout would have been destined for ‘Straight-to-DVD-Hell’. And the fact it’s produced by Luc ‘I’m a hack’ Besson, who also gave us Xenophobia: The Film aka Taken, well, that fact still makes me cringe.
But anyway, back to Pearce. Guy Pearce does a marvellous job and certainly appears to be having a blast, getting beaten up and generally antagonising the heck out of everybody he meets. Snow is part Indiana Jones, part John McClane and with just a little dash of Uncharted’s Nathan Drake -yep, a videogame protagonist! Pearce delivers some remarkably corny lines, but with such gusto that you can’t help A) rooting for Snow B) falling in love with the character’s infantile wit, or C) all of the aforementioned. I opted for C. Quite simply he’s a quality quarter-pounder in a ‘No Frills’ burger.
Perhaps the film’s biggest disappointment is that it lacks a truly great villain. Main villain duties are handled by brothers Alex (Vincent Regan) and Hydell (who’s played by ex-Emmerdale star, Joseph Gilgun). Regan plays the sensible, older brother and Gilgun the younger nutter. Regan does an ok job as the brooding, menacing boss, but it’s Gilgun who is the film’s most memorable bad guy. Rather disappointingly, Snow never really gets a proper face-off with either, in fact he doesn’t even do that much of the ole fisti-cuffs really, he just shoots his big gun, but other than that, he’s typically on the receiving end of the punishment. What I really wanted was somebody who could match Snow, quip for quip and punch for punch. Alas, I shall have to wait for the sequel *fingers crossed*
Maggie Grace as the president’s daughter Emilie Warnock, doesn’t really have a lot to do. She sets up some jokes for Snow, then maybe one or two more, gets into trouble and then sets up a few more jokes. Grace does all of this perfectly well, it’s just a shame that she couldn’t have done a bit of the old ass-kicking herself. The other notable face which turns up is Peter Stormare as Langral, the head honcho of the secret services. Again, Stormare doesn’t have anything to do, other than play type ie play a suit and look greasy -he achieves both effortlessly.
What other problems are there with Lockout, then? Well, the editing is fairly shoddy and in places it’s obvious that scenes have had to be chopped down relentlessly to ensure continuity. The CGI in places is also pretty ropy, the bike sequence at the film’s beginning being the biggest culprit. To hide this the film employs a wonderful blur effect, which only exacerbates the problem. It continually draws your attention to how awful the SFXs are. However, this scene does redeem itself at its conclusion, when a CGI Pearce falls from his bike and with a slick bit of editing, we’re transitioned to the real Pearce -a surprisingly tidy ending, to a pretty awful chase scene.
So, the CGI is dodgy, the acting is hammy, the editing is a hack-job (at best), and the script is dog-eared. But by Christ on a swizzle stick, did I love, Lockout! If you prefer your protagonist’s to be grizzled, wise-crackers -as opposed to baby-faced cape wearing freaks -then I suggest you give Lockout a try, sure it’s got its problems, but trust in Guy Pearce and you’ll have an absolute blast. Agent Snow, is here to save the world, and he’s doing it without wearing skin tight lycra -now suck those apples, Avengers!
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