Lockout (2012)


Lockout is a good little hostage drama, which takes the idea of “high concept” literally by having the vast majority of the action take place in orbit around Earth.

The year is 2079, and NASA launches the last of America’s deep space probes.  Er wait, that’s not right.  Here we have Guy Pearce as ex-CIA spook Snow, wrongly convicted of espionage and sentenced to spend decades in stasis as a guest in MS-One, an orbiting maximum security prison.  Before he can be put in the cooler (har har), no less than the U.S. President’s daughter, played by Maggie Grace, is visiting the prison to ensure the treatment of prisoners is humane.  She is soon caught up in a riot and taken prisoner, hence Snow is then given the task to mount a one-man rescue attempt to Save the President’s Daughter!

So let’s break it down.  For Story, I’ll give it a big goose-egg (0).  I believe they did have a script, typed on actual paper, that they handed out to all involved.  The problem is that it was a photocopy of Escape from New York.  Or perhaps Half Past Dead.  Or maybe Fortress.  Ad infinitum.  The Look gets a +2, as it provides a decently solid and inventive futuristic world via CGI.  Casting gets a +2, as everyone helps sell the dodgy story with conviction.  Commitment to Genre gets a +2; whether you’re looking at SF or perhaps the prison-break genre, the movie keeps on the rails of either track.

Sub-total of +6.


A solid 3 points (+3) go to Guy Pearce, who demonstrates his action-lead chops with a charismatic “charming rogue” turn.  A little less blood-thirsty than Snake Plissken, a bit less comic than Han Solo.  I think this one puts Pierce on the radar for big-budget action flicks. Maggie Grace gets a point (+1) as President’s daughter Emilie Warnock.  She develops a chemistry with Pearce and gives off good vibes as a kind of cross between early Angelina Jolie and an icy Charlize Theron circa Prometheus.  A final note on casting; (+1) for a nicely lunatic performance by Joseph Gilgun as Hydell, the prisoner on the edge of sanity, who occasionally does a giddy jig over the line.

I say that the overall look of the film works, and since we have Luc Besson producing, the visual effects often have a kinetic, nutty feel to them that doesn’t quite swing out of control as in, say, Besson’s The Fifth Element.  However, when the CGI gets a bit busy the reality of the scenes starts to slip, and this is most apparent in a chase sequence on a futuristic motorcycle near the beginning of the film.  No solid-looking batcycle here, folks.  So take two away (-2) for the wheels.

SF and action flicks both tend to strain credibility as things unfold, but Lockout stretches like a big ol’ Stretch Armstrong doll so I’ll deduct 3 points (-3) for some of the more egregious transgressions.

And last, I’ll add one (+1) point for the peppy banter between Pearce and Grace, which did have me LOLing occasionally.

So we lock in 7 for Lockout.  Have yourself some milk.




Author: William Hunter

Leave a Reply