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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 8: Lockout


July 8: Lockout

"A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates."
Directed by: James Mather & Stephen St. Leger, Rated: PG-13, 95 minutes

I have always been a fan of the great Guy Pearce. L.A Confidential, Memento, Ravenous, and The Count of Monte Cristo are all terrific films. Unfortunately, in nearly every one of them (minus, perhaps, Memento), Pearce flies under the radar. Simply put, he's one of those great actors that's never used enough and turns out to be quite the treat when utilized. Enter Lockout, a movie that had been on my radar after I first heard about it's announcement. Written and produced by Luc Besson and starring Guy Pearce sounded like a badass idea. Unfortunately, upon release, Lockout was welcomed with mostly negative reviews and I reluctantly decided to skip it in theaters and wait for the DVD. Sadly, Lockout proves to be quite the mess and, while my faith in Besson has been tested, my "allegiance" to Pearce still holds strong. Sure, it still could be much better, but it's not at the fault of the star, but of the writers and directors. 

Monsieur Besson, why do you have to be so inconsistent? 

Guy Pearce plays Snow, a man accused of a crime he didn't commit and is sentenced to thirty years in a maximum security prison. However, as this is set in the "near future", this prison is actually resting in space, orbiting Earth. When the US President's daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace) is taken hostage by 500 released convicts (who just happen to take over when she's visiting), Snow is hired to rescue her in exchange for a pardon. Thus, Lockout follows Snow and Emilie's attempt to escape, while being chased by the violent Alex (Vincent Regan, the captain from 300), his psychotic brother Hydell (Joseph Gilgun, This is England), and their increasingly insane prisoner posse. Sure, Lockout's plot isn't necessarily the strongest idea, but it's a great setting for a hell of a lot of shit to go down. Sadly, it never really gets enough momentum to go in any direction (be it action or sci-fi) and, while the film is clearly reminiscent of the 80s "classic" Escape from New York (and more recently, Taken), it never quite stands out on its own. The already weak plot finds a way to fizzle out and, towards the end, too many subplots take hold of the story and try to change it into something smarter than it already is, rather then letting it simply be a straight-up action movie with great one-liners. 

The opening credits scene does a damn good job at introducing Snow. 

The best part of the Lockout is Guy Pearce and the two villain brothers. Pearce is perfect in the role, and it's almost as though his character was written for an entirely different film, as if he just accidentally wandered on set and said his lines. Practically every line he utters just oozes sarcastic badass, even if the writers tried a little too hard to make him like Bruce Willis or Kurt Russell. Personally, I'd love to see another movie feature Pearce's Snow, in a completely different setting with much better directors at the helm. Moving onto the villains, Regan and Gilgun are both pretty damn good in their respective roles. Regan plays the quieter, smarter, and even stronger brother Alex, while Gilgun plays the sinister, over-the-top psychotic, and scrawny little rat, Hydell. The two don't necessarily compliment each other all too well, and any brotherly love ceases to exist the moment Hydell first f**ks up, but as two separate bad guys, they add their own to the film. Lockout is a fine example of how great actors can save weak roles. Sadly, when everything and everyone around them can't do the same, it leads to quite the messy picture.

Without even seeing the movie, you can tell this little fella's a bad guy. 

I'd recommend Lockout strictly for those three performances alone. Just keep in mind that you're not going into some genius bit of storytelling with life-changing themes or epic fight sequences. The film also could look a whole lot better, as each of the very few fight scenes and shootouts are edited to death, with very little focus retained on what is actually going on. Some of the special effects look disgusting, especially in the beginning, and a lot of it felt like I was watching a cut-scene in a video game. Nonetheless, Lockout proves mildly entertaining and while I am glad I did not waste my money and time seeing it in theaters, I do not regret watching it at home. 

The Good:
Guy Pearce being awesome, with great performances from Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun as well. 
The Bad:
those same great performances that are thrown into a grab-bag of blah, with piss-poor directing, bad editing, and medicore special effects
The Ugly:
realizing that we may never again have the action stars we had in the 80s and 90s

Overall: 6.3/10

Re-watch? Maybe
Buy? No

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At August 10, 2012 at 7:52 AM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

Glad I saw it for Guy Pearce. Everything else seems to exist just to give him opportunities to mouth off.

At August 10, 2012 at 8:38 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Guy Pearce certainly made it watchable. It's a shame there wasn't more around him because his character's quite a badass.


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