Guy Pearce takes a break from high drama and brings a little fun back to space in Lockout. Written and produced by Luc Besson, Lockout's plot is a basic retread of John Carpenter's Escape from New York. Instead of Kurt Russell's Snake Plissken, we get Pearce as the equally smarmy and offensive Snow. Pearce revels in this role as the ass-kicking, foul-mouthed agent. He actually wears a t-shirt that says "Warning: Offensive" during the entire film. The president's daughter (Maggie Grace) is taken hostage while reviewing a new supermax prison in orbit. The rub is that they don't realize they have the president's daughter. Insert Snow here. He's been framed for the death of a superior and was en route to becoming a cryo-stasis resident of this prison. The Secret Service gives him a shot at redemption, if he can get her off the station safely.
Fans looking for a serious, lucid science fiction film should stay away from Lockout. The film doesn't take itself seriously. It's an equal part comedy as much as an action or space film. Couple that with the PG-13 rating and you have film that is more cartoonish than anything else. I found Lockout to be entertaining and funny. It's an amalgamation of classic sci-fi themes with a humorous bend. I'm sure Ridley Scott's Prometheus will more than make up for the darkness and horror of space this summer. Lockout isn't going for that kind of film and I'm thankful for it.
Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace are very good together here. The classic scruffy anti-hero meets prissy, but intelligent princess. Once again, we've seen it before a million times, but here it works, is charming, and most important, believable. Grace, known for Taken and the TV series Lost, is a good foil for Pearce's brusque antics. There's a scene midway where he forces her to cut her hair and disguise her face. It's downright hilarious, with a good mix of sexual tension. You can buy that there's something going on between these characters outside of their situation. Scenes like that make a movie and is instrumental here.
I did have major problems with the effects and color-timing of the film. Some of the big action scenes are way too dark. I believe this was done on purpose to cover up the shoddy CGI. There's a futuristic motorcycle chase that looks like it was taken from a video game. People aren't shelling out to see video game CGI in a feature film, so that's a bit disappointing. The screening I saw was in a modern theater, so the technical issues were more apparent. Caught me by surprise as most space themed films I've seen recently had banner special effects.
Guy Pearce owns Lockout. He continues to be one of my favorite actors. From Memento, to The Proposition, to last year's Mildred Pierce on HBO, he is incredibly versatile as an actor. I can see why he wanted to do Lockout. Take a break from the serious work and have some fun being an a**hole hero. He carries the film as Snow. Lockout doesn't break new ground, has its flaws, and is a bit of a rehash; but is entertaining and comical in a genre that could use a little humor.