A sci-fi retread is filled with popcorn action and a capable cast, but almost all other elements were left in stasis.
To the mainstream world, actor Guy Pearce seemed to disappear there for a few years, never quite living up to the superstar promise that his key performances in L.A. Confidential and especially Memento indicated. Yet he has been busy over the last half-decade, turning in memorable supporting moments in Australia’s Animal Kingdom and The King’s Speech, and soon to appear in Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated Prometheus. Dipping into some sci-fi before that monolith emerges, Pearce gets his action on with France’s Lockout.
Accused of murder and espionage that he claims he didn’t commit, Snow (Guy Pearce) is offered one last chance at freedom when the President’s daughter Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped aboard the space-bound prison MS1. Filled with violent criminals, some deranged further by the induced stasis they have all been kept in, Snow must confront the calculating Alex (Vincent Regan) while also pursuing Mace (Tim Plester), the only man who may have the key to proving his innocence.
Lockout has been punched out of a cookie-cutter that has been used so many times now that it is bent out of shape, producing freaky biscuits that still have some tasty bits if you can look past their aesthetic deficiencies. This French sci-fi is somewhat derivative of Fortress 2: Re-Entry, in that they both contain a prison in space and things that get all explodey. This in itself was hardly a revolutionary concept, but 2012’s Lockout fails to overcome any of the direct-to-DVD limitations of the mid-1990s. Indeed, were it not for the presence of Guy Pearce, this may have been relegated to the bargain shelves next to Christopher Lambert or Dolph Lundgren’s latest, and even his presence may say more about his own career trajectory than those other fine thesps of the small screen.
Pearce does admirably with the limited material he is given, his schtick being a series of not-so-clever one-liners and camera mugging. For the most part, he is the film, and the rest of the cast merely revolve like space junk around him. The pretty Maggie Grace, having struggled through a series of forgettable supporting roles in films like Taken and Faster, is underused and for the most part he primary asset – her looks – are obscured under a tomboy haircut and a hopelessly two-dimensional character. Only Vincent Regan is subdued enough to chew scenery with any class, but the same can not be said for cinematic sibling Joseph Gilgun, whose psychotic henchman seems to have wandered in from another film.
Lockout has all the moving parts of a fun-filled popcorn film, but lowers the bar once again with its derivative plotting, generic characters and contrived story. That genre legend Luc Besson’s name is attacked to the screenplay, that he also produced, is perhaps the real tragedy here. The tacked-on ending sets things up nicely for a sequel, although we hope the door is shut firmly on the future of this particular franchise.