Friday, April 13, 2012

In Theaters: LOCKOUT (2012)


Directed by Stephen Saint Leger & James Mather.  Written by Stephen Saint Leger, James Mather, Luc Besson.  Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Peter Stormare, Lennie James, Joseph Gilgun, Jacky Ido, Tim Plester, Peter Hudson. (PG-13, 94 mins)

LOCKOUT is another enjoyably brainless outing from the Luc Besson action factory.  The film owes such a debt to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK that John Carpenter probably deserves a co-story credit.  It's loud and dumb and the cliches are too plentiful to count, but it's the kind of entertaining cinematic junk food that will do OK in theaters before a long and healthy life in near-constant weekend rotation on TNT for many years to come.

"Call me Snake.  Er, uh, I mean Snow."
In Washington DC 2078, disgraced CIA agent Snow (Guy Pearce as Kurt Russell) is framed for the murder of another agent and sentenced to 30 years at MS-One, a supermax prison hovering far above Earth.  Inmates are in a state of hibernative stasis and everything is carefully monitored by on-site security and medical staff and by a space station that's home to the L.O.P.D. (Low Orbit Police Department).  Meanwhile, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), First Daughter to the 56th President of the United States (Peter Hudson) is on a humanitarian fact-finding mission to MS-One to assess the stasis conditions of the prisoners.  Of course, one awakened inmate (Joseph Gilgun) being interviewed by Emilie manages to steal a gun from a Secret Service agent and orders the control room to wake everyone up.  Now the prisoners, led by Gilgun's infinitely more intelligent brother (Vincent Regan), have commandeered MS-One and taken Emilie and the civilians hostage.  President Warnock won't send the Marines to attack because his daughter is up there, so Secret Service chief Langral (Peter Stormare as Lee Van Cleef) opts to send...you guessed it...Snow!  Because he's the best there is...but he's a loose cannon!  (A line present in the trailer, yet tragically absent from the film).  Snow manages to get into MS-One, both to find and rescue Emilie and to find Mace (Tim Plester), his framed partner who knows the whereabouts of a briefcase that could prove Snow's innocence.

Maggie Grace, taken again in LOCKOUT
LOCKOUT is the kind of guilty pleasure actioner where you get a wisecracking lawman hero named Snow who has a partner named Mace.  To his immense credit, a seriously bulked-up Pearce, generally not one to cut loose on screen, clearly knows how ridiculous the whole thing is and just has fun with it.  Some of his one-liners are groaners, but Pearce sells it and makes an inherently stupid movie pretty watchable.  The biggest mistake that directors/co-writer Stephen Saint Leger and James Mather make is giving far too much screen time to the hammy histrionics of Gilgun, who delivers what's already the frontrunner for 2012's most irritating performance.  I'm sure they told him to go for "scene-stealing," but it's more like "scene-killing."  The production design is impressively bleak in a future-dystopia sort-of way that shooting in Serbia probably greatly aided.  Things are almost derailed during a chase sequence early on, as the police pursue a motorcycle-riding Snow.  It may be the most incoherently-staged sequence of its kind, an incomprehensible blur of shaky-cam and inexcusably horrible CGI that's so bad that the sequence actually looks incomplete.  Thankfully, it picks up after that.

Joseph Gilgun delivers what may go down as
2012's most gratingly annoying performance.

I'm not saying LOCKOUT is a very good movie or that anyone needs to run out and see it.  But I mostly had a good time with it, primarily because it knows it's garbage and seems perfectly fine with that.  It knows it's ripping off ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981), DIE HARD (1988), FORTRESS (1993), and the little-seen and even less-remembered SPACERAGE (1986) and STAR SLAMMER (also 1986).  Already released in Europe, the film was trimmed by a few seconds to secure a PG-13 rating, which is kind of lame but has no real effect on things, even if you can tell exactly where the cut took place.  I'm sure we'll get the inevitable "Unrated Director's Cut" on dvd and blu-ray.

The more effective French poster art

1 comment:

  1. Good review! Will wait to see an Unrated version.