“Excuse me. I just….I know I’m in the way. I know, I know, I know, I just need to do one……….thing. I know I’m in your way. I just need to do….this. Do you mind? If you mind, I can move. But, I’ll be quick. There! Did it. Sorry to be such an inconvenience.”
Inconvenience is right.
If Lockout was a living person, it’d be “that guy”. The guy who knows what their doing is unfair and annoying but because what they want to do or say takes a shorter than usual time, that person thinks their actions are justifiable.
Lockout is a mind-numbing slog in Space. It hits every cliche possible and manages to turn those tables 360 degrees so that it can replay those same, tired beats.
It’s clear while watching this run-of-the-mill action flick that Directors/Writers James Mather and Stephen St. Leger are aiming to be a B-movie. A movie that plays up violence and sarcastic remarks from the lead but knowing when to turn down the volume of the excessiveness – they are, after all, aiming for a PG-13 rating.
Luc Besson is also credited as a writer, which makes the circumstances that much more disheartening. Besson has been behind some great action films. As for the ones that don’t work as well, they have a certain place in cinema where you still remember the film and his involvement with it. It’s nearly impossible to forget something Besson has been involved. Nearly because now we have Lockout.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before; either in a straight faced action movie or in a comedy parodying one of those movies.
In the very futuristic looking 2079, the President’s daughter Emilie Warnock (played by Maggie Grace) investigates the most dangerous prison in existence – an intergalactic chamber floating in Space. The institution is filled with the worst criminals thrown away for committing the worst crimes. However, Emilie is inclined to travel the distance to the prison to check out the living environment.
The prison has a type of stasis that affects one’s mentality. Under this stasis, prisoners suffer from severe dementia and psychotic behaviour. However, hell breaks loose, one of the prisoners Emilie is questioning starts chaos and ends up bringing the inhabitants out of their stasis. The once desolate space station is now littered with dangerous, violence-happy scum.
Is the synopsis ringing any bells so far? Maybe it will start to when the character Snow enters the picture (played unfortunately by Guy Pearce). Snow is a live wire! He’s a man who plays by his own rules. If you don’t like that, you can get the hell out! Snow, who is convicted of murdering an undercover agent but says “he’s innocent”, is recruited to travel to Space to rescue the President’s daughter.
While you watch Lockout, you can’t help but be reminded of times this song-and-dance has been performed better. We’re not even thinking of better movies but other guilty pleasure schlock-fests that, at least, had an ounce of dumb fun to them.
Mather and St. Leger (and Besson while we’re at it) are only interested in playing every line of dialogue, every action piece, and every slice of exposition with a straight and serious face. We can’t help but feel if we smirk at one of the eye-rollingly lame exchanges between Snow and the Secret Service director (played by Peter Stormare), the actors will shoot us a glance.
It’s this serious attitude that kills any sort of enjoyment in the material. The Space setting, the insane villains, the “bad ass” quips shot from Snow’s mouth, these may all be things we’ve seen and heard before, but, there’s still a possibility of taking these overly familiar themes and portraying them in such a way that makes us want to keep watching the action unfold.
But again, like “that guy” who proceeds to know what he/she is doing is irritating but beneficial to them, the team behind Lockout wants nothing more than to execute each scene and move onto the next to finish the film as quickly as possible. You never get a sense that these filmmakers are trying to “wow” us. All they want to do is to “meh” us. A passing grade is A-OK for these guys. Too bad their finished product is as wooden and broken as a collapsing spice rack in high school shop class.
It’s astounding how unintimidating the problems are. Audiences should be shaking in their boots at the mere sight of these wonky prisoners, but we can’t, because each actor who has been cast as a baddie mugs at every given chance. You almost expect one of the extras to be holding up a sign reading, “Hey Mom! I’m in a movie.”
Things get even more ridiculous when our lead villains are the least intimidating ones of the lot. On the one hand we have the “menacing” Alex (played unenthusiastically by Vincent Regan) who is supposed to strike fear by being as unemotional as possible. An alright start, but because he’s such a terrible leader and wrangler, we can never take him seriously.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have Hydell (played up by Joseph Gilgun) who is, I suppose, the comic relief “menacing” one. The problem is he’s not very comical and never gives the film relief. He constantly jittery and yaps loudly in a thick accent, and has a hard time keeping still. It’s hard to say there’s potential for a good start to a form of villain because this character is so badly written and acted.
Picture Brad Pitt’s character in Snatch. crossed with Artie the Strongest Man in the World from Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Now, pretend to be scared by this.
There’s no need for Lockout to exist. It serves no purpose, has zero entertainment value, and worst of all, it wastes the talents of its cast. If we want to talk about intimidation, let’s talk about Mather and St. Leger’s ability to bring out Pearce’s worst performance. If these two can make this well equipped actor stink, who’s past two films have been Academy Award winners for the Best Picture honour, may I remind you, who knows what they’ll do next.
Perhaps, we should send these two to an intergalactic Space prison where there will be a safe distance between them and any writing or filmmaking platform.