Bring a snooze alarm if you see 'Lockout'


The movie Lock­out sends the Earth’s most dan­ger­ous crim­in­als to space and keeps them in an ar­ti­fi­cial state of sleep like some kind of live-ac­tion sci­ence ex­per­i­ment. Well, that’s one way to solve the prob­lem of over­crowded pris­ons.

It is ob­vi­ous one is not sup­posed to take this B-movie too ser­i­ously, but it was all a bit clunky and awk­ward for me. I could nev­er get in­to the story from the be­gin­ning, and al­most felt as lost in space as the crim­in­als in out­er-space pris­on.

Based on an idea from Luc Besson (the mind be­hind movies like Taken and La Femme Nikita), Lock­out is set in the year 2079. Most of the movie takes place in MS One, an ex­per­i­ment­al pris­on in space where the 500 most dan­ger­ous crim­in­als on plan­et Earth are kept in an ar­ti­fi­cial sleep.

Lead­ing a hu­man­it­ari­an mis­sion, the U.S. pres­id­ent’s daugh­ter, Em­ilie War­nock (Mag­gie Grace), ar­rives just as the pris­on­ers have sud­denly awakened and seized con­trol of the pris­on. The gang of crim­in­als, led by Scot­tish Alex (Vin­cent Regan) and his more off-kil­ter broth­er Hy­dell (Joe Gil­gun), take Em­ilie and the crew host­age.

The pres­id­ent de­cides to send ex-CIA agent Snow (Guy Pearce) on the sole mis­sion of sav­ing his daugh­ter and leav­ing every­one else to fend for them­selves against the in­mates. Snow had been wrongly con­victed of es­pi­on­age but is prom­ised his free­dom in ex­change for Em­ilie’s safe re­turn home. Snow is a re­luct­ant hero and makes it look far too easy to just saunter in­to space and res­cue the pres­id­ent’s daugh­ter.

Ul­ti­mately, the film, from new­bie dir­ect­ors James Math­er and Steph­en St. Leger, suf­fers from silly storytelling, me­diocre ac­tion, low-budget spe­cial ef­fects and tep­id PG-13 vi­ol­ence.

None of the char­ac­ters has much per­son­al­ity, aside from a brawny Pearce, whose wise­cracks and witty lines kept the audi­ence chuck­ling every now and again, but it wasn’t enough to save the en­tire movie. Ba­sic­ally, when Pearce wasn’t on screen, not much was go­ing on. Still, I prefer Pearce in his more “pres­ti­gi­ous” roles, a la The King’s Speech, Memento and L.A. Con­fid­en­tial.

Mag­gie Grace was com­pletely un­der­whelm­ing as his po­ten­tial ro­mantic in­terest. It was hard to tell if it was the act­ress or the char­ac­ter, but either way she didn’t leave much of an im­pres­sion on me. She mostly plays the dam­sel-in-dis­tress role and has some de­cent banter with Pearce’s char­ac­ter, but I didn’t see any sparks.

The vil­lains were suf­fi­ciently creepy, but I found the lack of a fi­nal-act, vi­ol­ent show­down between Snow, Em­ilie and the pris­on­ers dis­ap­point­ing. Also, the pris­on­ers do kill people, but they nev­er really make any de­mands or in­sist on be­ing set free.

I have to won­der why this genre film didn’t go dir­ect to DVD or dir­ect-to-cable TV. I pre­dict it will soon be one of those late-night movies you’ll come across while flip­ping through the chan­nels in an at­tempt to con­quer a bout of in­som­nia.

Movie Grade: C-


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