Lockout – 2012 – Stephen Saint Leger/James Mather – 95 Min.
Is it possible to improve and worsen a movie that is essentially a rip-off? The correct answer is apparently somewhat yes and mostly no. Sadly this is what “Lockout” attempts to do.
Somehow, writer’s Luc Besson, Stephen Saint Leger and James Mather, managed to take the plot of John Carpenter’s “Escape from LA” and change things just enough to make the movie a coronary–inducing mess. Instead of rescuing the president’s daughter from a prison island, they’re having her rescued from a space-station prison. Instead of a one-liner spouting Snake Plissken, they went for the wise-cracking Snow. Noting the patterns yet?
Now having some similarities (or even a script’s worth of similarities) can be forgiven if the film is executed well. Lockout failed spectacularly in that regard. There is too much spacing between the action scenes and the ones we get are either too short or too poorly edited to really be exciting. The majority of the film feels like it’s supposed to be building towards something. But every opportunity they have to pay off the build-up falls flat on its face. Even the final climax feels like a major letdown. I’m not even going to bring up the idiotic final twist they throw out there to try and justify this whole mess. Just know that if you don’t get it, you’re not alone.
That assumes of course, you can notice something about the climax other than the mind-bending stupidity of what is happening. I feel like I should mention, this being a science-fiction/action film, that the science is absolutely butchered beyond recognition. And I don’t mean in the sense of obscure rules of science that most audiences wouldn’t notice, I mean the basic rules of gravity being taken behind a woodshed and beaten until they fit what the writer’s wanted for the sake of the story. It’s a big distraction, even if you consider this a mindless action film. There are just some basic ideas of science that one can’t suspend one’s disbelieve regarding, such as SPACE LACKING GRAVITY!
Additionally, the special affects in this movie are very inconsistent and it shows. At times, they are pretty seamless and not distracting, however there are far more instances of the CGI being so sub-standard that they completely wreck the experience. The first major action scene of the film is a perfect example of this. During that particular scene, the CGI looks about on par with the CGI used in “Escape from LA.” This would not be a major issue if there wasn’t a 16 year gap between when these movies were made and computer graphics hadn’t made extraordinary leaps in technology. I will give it some credit in that these problems are less obvious when the action moves to space, but they’re still present.
In terms of acting, there’s a fairly mixed bag. Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3, Prometheus) as Snow is actually pretty good. He plays the wise-cracking tough guy quite well. The script really doesn’t give him much to work with, under-development being rampant among the characters, but what he does have (his wisecracks), he works really well with. Maggie Grace (who some may recognize from the TV show Lost) plays the president’s daughter and she is……present. Again, she doesn’t get too much to work with, though I will say that she got the best (and only) arc of any character. She just doesn’t leave any impression, though that may have to do with the huge negative impression the rest of the film is leaving. And if you’re hoping to recognize a lot of the other actors give up hope now. The rest of the cast are character actors and British TV actors.
I liked Joseph Gilgun as Hydell, or as I liked to call him, “The walking, talking, scenery chewing fan for shit to hit.” He was fun in his insane way and appropriately creepy. I’d like to see him in some bigger roles going forward. Vincent Regan played his older brother and the lead villain and he was ok. He basically fit into being just a generic villainous mastermind. That’s pretty much the case with the rest of the side characters. They’re pretty generic and boring. Even Peter Stormare is robbed of the chance to give and enjoyable performance by having to just be sleazy. Don’t get me wrong, he does the sleazy role just fine, but without the kind of crazy murderous side he had in “The Last Stand”, he just comes off as being bland.
In the end this was a just a failed attempt to improve on a bad movie. (Did I mention “Escape from LA” was bad too?) Some parts were ok, but too often it felt like a bland rip-off or an out and out attempt to murder brain cells. If given the chance, just listen to Guy Pearce’s snappy dialogue and vacuum your floor. Your brain will thank you.
Final rating: 2 Violated Laws of Gravity out of 10