Movie Review: LOCKOUT

LOCKOUT

LOCKOUT is so bad that it doesn’t even deserve the time it would take to come up with clever ways to describe how bad it is… but because I love you, I’ll give it the old college try.

The movie was co-directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger (written by Luc Beeson) and marks the feature directorial debut for both of them. Neither of these guys had directed more than a handful of short films up to this point, so how they managed to get the keys to a sci-fi thriller with Guy Pearce and a $30 million budget is beyond me.

The premise of LOCKOUT is essentially Escape From New York… in SPAAAAAACE. (That’s actually how I fantasize what must have been said at the pitch meeting: “Guys, this is going to be HOT. Think Escape From New York – but in SPAAAAAACE!”)

If only it were as good. Escape From NY is one of my favorite B-movies.  Sure it’s campy, but the 80s loved over-the-top action films, and it never tried to be anything more than what it was – a Saturday afternoon popcorn movie.

In contrast, LOCKOUT doesn’t know what the hell it’s supposed to be. It mixes sci-fi with political intrigue and tries to be a thriller with comedy – and each one of its split personalities is an epic failure.

The first 10 minutes feature some of the worst CGI ever put to the big screen. The movie opens with Snow (Guy Pearce) arrested for a high-profile murder and getting the shit beat out of him before acquiescing to his captor’s requests for information. He begins to describe the events leading up to his arrest – which include a high speed chase that resembles a mash-up of the police ‘spinners’ from Bladerunner against Pearce on a TRON lightcycle.  The CGI here is so sub-par that it honestly resembles something from an early 2000s video game. (I am really not exaggerating.)

LOCKOUTThe political intrigue is introduced early on, but it’s never given any context. We know that Snow’s been betrayed by someone high-up in the government (even the president is involved). There’s a briefcase with something very important inside that he has to protect. And that’s about it. The filmmakers tried to weave this thread throughout the movie, but we’re given so little information, that it’s really more of an annoyance than a plot device.

The big enchilada in LOCKOUT is MS One, a maximum security space prison billed as escape-proof because, seriously, where the hell are you going to go?

So 50 years from now, we have the ability to build a huge orbiting space station, with artificial gravity and living quarters for 500 people, and the best use we can come up with for that technology is a prison. Yeah, that sounds about right.

The president’s daughter, played by Maggie Grace, is on a humanitarian visit to inspect the prison and while she’s there – yup, you guessed it – all hell breaks loose and the prisoners take over. So just before he’s about to be put away for life, Plissken… er, Snow is given a reprieve in exchange for sneaking in and carrying out a rescue mission.

From that point on, the movie is just one big cat and mouse chase, with Snow trying to stay one step ahead of the space convicts. He manages to secure the president’s daughter, and she manages to be a pain in the ass for the entire rest of the movie. The “witty banter” that ensues between Pearce and Grace is probably supposed to provide some comic relief, but it quickly becomes so tedious that you’re practically begging for one of them to get sucked out of an airlock.

LOCKOUTThe one bright spot in the whole mess is Joseph Gilgun who plays Hydell, one of the escaped convicts. This guy does bat-shit crazy like a fucking virtuoso. If I needed to cast a raging psycho with a nearly unintelligible British accent, Gilgun would be my go-to guy.

The bottom line: If the filmmakers had avoided the schizophrenic plot, there might have been some hope for this movie. Clearly they were trying to avoid direct comparisons with Escape From New York by tossing in a bunch of chaff as a diversion. Personally, I think they would have been much better off just embracing the camp and doing a straight remake of the original… in SPAAAAACE!  If Cabin in the Woods proved anything, it’s that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making a quality popcorn movie, and that’s what LOCKOUT should have been.

Rating: 1.5/5 ★½☆☆☆ 

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About Dave_P

Dave_P studied fine arts and film history and is a graphic and web designer, and a diehard movie fan. David has been involved with a variety film festivals including the Cinephile Film Festival, the PRIDE Film festival, and the Manhattan Short Film festival, and is currently the director of the Dark Carnival Film Fest in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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