Lockout (2012)

Charged by the Chief of the Secret Service (Peter Stormare) with a murder he did not commit, former agent Snow (Guy Pearce) faces imprisonment on MS One, an American high-security prison located in orbit around Earth that places its offenders in stasis for the duration of their sentence. When a mass breakout strands the President’s humanitarian daughter (Maggie Grace) on the facility, however, the government turns to Snow for help in freeing her, as the station’s defences (and the President’s love for his daughter) rule out a large scale offensive. With the only proof of his innocence also aboard MS One, Snow agrees to the mission.

It’s not often in this line of pretend work that you show up at your nearest cineplex to find that it is showing a movie of which you know absolutely nothing about. After all, while I had tried my hardest to avoid spoilers relating to Drew Goddard’s The Cabin In The Woods, I still new of its existence, and had done so for almost three years. Indeed, I had even known that it was best served cold.  Not so with Lockout, the true surprise when I went down to the woods that day.

Without the usual hype and forewarning, then, I was immediately charmed by its unashamedly B-movie trappings and genuinely winning sense of humour. The opening scene, which intersperses recent backstory with a bruising interrogation is amongst the most immediately engaging I have seen this year. “I don’t want to hurt you”, admits Stormare’s Scott Langral mid-interrogation. “Is that why you’re having him do it?”, Snow retorts, inviting another blow from the Chief’s right-hand-man, the comically named Rupert. For directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, it’s a sharp, witty and delightfully disarming way to begin their movie.

Unfortunately, it is a high watermark to which the film rarely returns. Through flashbacks the audience is distracted with a poorly handled conspiracy that culminates inexplicably in a bike chase that would be more at home on a Game Boy than it is in a movie theatre, before the action moves to MS One where it is doomed to stay. Here we meet Maggie Grace’s humanitarian, investigating rumours of unlawful experimentation, a prickly President’s daughter who is almost as unsympathetic as she is apparently bullet-proof. Shot in the leg by one of two inexplicably Scottish prisoners (it’s a U.S. facility), her wound is all but ignored by her fellow hostages so that a lab-coat can be draped around her shoulders. I suppose it’s the thought that counts.

This, after all, is a movie where space travel is slightly less troublesome than rail travel, depleting oxygen levels suddenly reverse when someone else in the room dies, and in which the entire Eastern seaboard is of less consequence than the safety of one ridiculous woman. In fact, there are so many contrivances vying for the largest suspension of disbelief that in the end you just have to surrender yourself to the machinations of it all or ask for your money back. With a needlessly cluttered narrative that takes in a mysterious brief case, a cover-up, a family dispute and the central hiest, you are rarely given enough time to question what has come before.

Essentially The Rock in space, there is no denying that Lockout is a derivative, preposterous and hopelessly formulaic bastardisation of several other, much better movies. Elevated somewhat heroically by Pearce’s wise-cracking, maverick central performance (not to mention Joe Gilgun’s scene-swilling turn as antagonist), this is nevertheless a deliriously entertaining slice of science fiction that will have you ruthlessly engaged from beginning to end.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Lockout (2012)

  1. Pingback: April 2012 – I have a plan: attack! « popcornaddict

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