Lockout (2012)

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“Here’s an apple and a gun. Don’t talk to strangers, shoot them.”

★★
Directed by: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Written by: Stephen St. Leger, James Mather
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan

Lockout is your typical one man against all odds, saving the world (well… President’s daughter) with witty one-liners and a mysteriously resilient body, kinda movie. Unfortunately, for writer-directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, setting the movie in outer space is just about the only thing going for this film. It sets up plenty of action, special effects, and a sci-fi edge to the story, but with a script that feels amateurish at best, Lockout will only please audiences who are starved of good ONE MAN-THIS SUMMER action movies.

On the surface, Lockout has a perfect set up. A wrongfully accused good guy is sent by secret service onto a maximum security prison that is overrun by rapists and murderers so that he can A. bring back the President’s daughter (Grace) safely, and B. prove that he’s innocent by finding his partner and good friend, who is also on board. Set this entire scenario in outer space, and it all sounds like something I might be interested in.  But just five minutes into the film, I gave up on any hopes of this being Die Hard in space.

So why doesn’t Lockout work within this timeless action subgenre? For one, you have to bear with Guy Pearce – an actor who has had more than his share of rarefied action film roles being forced to work off a script that makes his character, Snow,  a second rate caricature of every wise-cracking action hero there is. The first five minute window of his interrogation with the secret service at the beginning of Lockout is enough to go on.

In addition to the main character being as two-dimensional as a piece of stale cardboard, the action fails to be compelling despite the special effects, the sweaty running around, and all of those automatic doors making SWWWIIISH sounds as they close on dangerous situations. You would think that being stuck on a ship, floating in outer space, with a hoard of madmen convicts would be compelling, but somehow, Lockout manages to make it a smooth ride.

Lockout occasionally lands on a smart line or two, and includes some enjoyable action scenes, but for the most part, it’s a cheap thrill. Set in space.

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