Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Lockout" (2012)

Starring Guy Pierce, Maggie Grace and Peter Stormare
Written by James Mather, Stephen St. Leger and Luc Besson
Directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 95 Minutes

In the future, the daughter of the President, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) visits a new orbital maximum security prison, looking for human rights violations. During her visit, a prisoner manages to steal a weapon from her Secret Service detail and release a number of his fellow inmates.  Now Emilie is trapped alone aboard a space station full of vicious criminals.

Only one man can save her.

That man is Snow (Guy Pierce), a government agent wrongfully convicted of treason and killing an undercover agent.  The idea of a frontal assault on the complex is vetoed, and the plan is concocted for Snow to infiltrate the base alone in exchange for the chance to prove his innocence.  Luckily, the prisoners don't know that Emilie is the president's daughter, and therefore an extremely valuable hostage.  But that only means that there's limited time before they do find out, and the situation escalates.

Presidents just shouldn't have daughters. They just always seem to get into trouble and require rescuing. Still, sometimes this works out for our benefit.  Does it do so here? Not so much.

"Lockout" is, through and through, a pretty dumb film.  It seems to think it's more clever than it is, which is alright because it doesn't take itself particularly seriously. The script treats Snow as a snarky, one-liner spouting action hero. He's easily the film's high point, especially as played by Guy Pierce.  He delivers Snow's dialog like a pro, getting many of the film's biggest laughs almost on attitude alone.  Pierce is clearly having fun playing a role that's very much outside the norm for him.

Otherwise, "Lockout" isn't very impressive.  It's a mashup of lots of familiar conventions and concepts. Surely you've seen the dated but superior "Escape from New York"? Pretty much the same thing. It's not even the first film about hostages aboard an orbiting space station. The plot twists are all very obvious, and the movie barely pays them much mind. Even the Snow character himself isn't all that original, it's the execution that makes him fun and lively.  If he'd been given a better movie to be in, I think he'd be pretty cool to build a franchise around. But Snow is the only character in the film who's worth a damn.

The villains, while decently constructed and competently portrayed, aren't very memorable. The most interesting aspect is that they're brothers, and that the elder, Alex, seems to have difficulty controlling Hydell.

Maggie Grace plays the damsel in distress, again, and does her usual competent but unremarkable job. Her character is at the mercy of the script, meaning that she's strong or weak depending on what the plot needs her to do at the moment. There's little meat to the character, other than that she's something of a bleeding heart.  If you don't care about Maggie Grace or any of the previous characters she's played, "Lockout" won't change your mind about her.  The rest of the cast is filled out with familiar character actors who are reliable, but won't win any awards.

"Lockout" is mostly full of action sequences that are almost cool.  Looking essentially like a rather expensive TV show rather than a movie, "Lockout" doesn't do anything impressive visually. In fact, the opening action sequence looks particularly terrible. With a higher budget, it might have been a pretty cool sequence.  Instead, it looks like someone forgot to replace the temporary effects.

This movie isn't terrible, but there's also not much that's very good about it, either.  If you can stomach the thorough mediocrity of the rest of the film, the Snow character is fun to watch. Otherwise, this is 95 minutes that doesn't require your attention.