Director: James Mather
Stephen St. Leger
Guy Pearce /Snow
The President’s hot assed daughter (Grace) is taken hostage on a space prison by a slew of escaped convicts and there’s only one man that can get in there, blast away and get her out safely. No, not Snake Plissken, the wise cracking Snow (Pearce)! Lock and load! It’s party time!
When I first saw the trailer for LOCKOUT, it screamed ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) meets 90’s sci/fi action throwback. Movies like SOLDIER (1998) or FORTRESS (1992). I actually wonder how close LOCKOUT is to John Carpenter’s planned but stalled second sequel to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, ESCAPE FROM EARTH. Cause as is, LOCKOUT could almost have passed for another Snake Plissken entry. But I digress. Personally any trailer that has a dead pan voice-over saying: “There's only man that can get her out, Snow. He’s the best there is, but he's a loose canon” has my f*cking attention right there! I live for these kind of movies man and thankfully, on some levels, the flick gave me exactly what I craved from it.
To say that LOCKOUT was plagiaristic would be an understatement. You got the plot of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, the prison of FORTRESS and a John McLane (DIE HARD) wannabe hero that actually went on to top his inspiration in the one-liners department. In fact, 95 percent of Guy Pearce’s dialogue was sly (some missed, most hit) wisecracks, and hey, I was all for them! I gotta say it Pearce’s macho, chain smoking (take that PC movement) and cock-sure performance was definitely a highlight for me. Dude had a blast with the role and I relished watching him go at it! The man was well backed as well. Vincent Regan put out an intimidating presence as the lead villain, Joseph Gilgunwent went all out as the loony henchman (too bad I couldn’t understand half of what he said with that thick Scottish accent), Peter Stormare always makes for a great a-hole, Maggie Grace looked smoking (and had a razor chemistry with Pearce) while Lennie James aced it as the Sgt. Al Powell (McLane’s long distance partner in Die Hard) of the flick.The quick pace didn’t hurt this one either; no mucking around here, point A to B to C… like that! Sure every plot turn was telegraphed, and anybody that’s seen more than 5 actions films in the 90’s will know where this one is going before it does, but for me, that was part of the charm. It didn’t try to be more than what it was: mindless entertainment, driven forward by a tough, cigarette abusing, and wisecracking hero. In my world, hard to go wrong with that recipe! Visually the flick was serviceable. The fight scenes weren’t too dodgy either and the actions bits were adequately shot (loved them spaceships versus canons shenanigans, Star Wars came to mind). I dug the production design too. There was lots of green work here, but for the most part it went down smoother than hot wax poured on a crack-whore's ass.
On the downside, predictability aside, this one could have benefited from further graphic violence (and yes I saw the R rated version, Americans will get an even dryer cut in their theaters). Where's Paul Verhoeven when you need him! Moreover, the affair lacked in the elaborate shoot-outs and fist to cuffs department. Granted there were some fights and guns were fired, but I kept hoping we’d get actual "set pieces", as opposed to punch/shoot and run. Taking into account the premise of the film and the badass antihero it pimped our way, I would call this a waste of potential. And was it me or was that action scene having to do with motorcycles AWFUL on every front? The SFX were of the Fisher Price variety and the staging of said scene clumsy to say the least. It almost felt like they’d didn’t have the time/money to do it properly so they half assed it and kept it in the movie. Should have snipped that bit out! It stank! Finally, any action movie that doesn’t have a mano et mano final fight between the hero and the main villain at the end should have its head examined. Hey man, you’re going to be plagiaristic, then don't ignore conventions, it makes ya look bad. A “Happy trails Hans” type of moment was sorely missed here.
All in all though, LOCKOUT was a simple and by the numbers action, sci-fi thriller that was saved by its action driven nature, it's endearing retro feel, some tight physical get-downs, a cool look and Guy Pearce’s dead pan performance. Fun stuff! You in or what?
We get a blown up head (don't blink), a bullet in the head, stabbings, some blood…that’s it. Kinda dry for the wet exploitation slut it’s supposed to be.
T & A
LOCKOUT was Escape from New York, meets Fortress by way of Die Hard. Original? Nope! Violent enough? Nope! Did it capitalize on its set up enough in terms of maximizing its action set pieces? At all! But was it easy entertainment with a priceless turn by Guy Pearce as an old school action hero that smokes cigarettes in between punches and one liners? YUP! If like me you dig your macho cheese with a quick fix pace, an action charged narrative line and lots of laughs; you’ll get something out of this one! See it on DVD, the way it should be seen, in my useless opinion of course…!
It was shot in Belgrade, Serbia.
Based on an original idea by Luc Besson.
It cost about $30,000,000 to make.