Lockout (2012)
AKA: Lock Out (2012) - Working Title/ Alternate Title
AKA: MS One: Maximum Security (2012) - International Title
AKA: Section 8 (2012) - Working Title

(Premiere Date: April 7, 2012
[Brussels International Film Festival])
(Release Date: Friday, April 13, 2012)

1/2


Die Hard in Prison... in Space!

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!!!









Every so often a movie is advertised that I, quite simply, have got to see. I don't mean the predictable ones, like a new Romero zombie film, a new Star Wars flick or something from Marvel... I'm talking about something less well known that almost certainly will not make the standard nerdism must-see list. It's not necessarily that I think that the movie will be great... or even good... it's just that something draws me to it and I'm sucked in, like a fragment of cosmic dust into a big, bad, dirty-ass black hole.

On the bright side, this undeniable inclination has led me to seeing films like Night Watch! On the significantly darker and more desperate side, I have been made to endure gloss-coated garbage like the miserable Dragon Wars by this sinister urge... which I still am hiding the physical and emotional scars from!

Somewhere in the middle floats 2012's magnetic Lockout... a movie I first heard of (and was compelled to see) three days before it was released. Look at Lockout, though... you've got a CGI-heavy action plot, outer space adventure, a daring rescue, a prison escape, a dangerous riot, a heroic assault on the sensitive spots of an impenetrable space station and lots of gunfights and explosions. It sounds like your typical Hollywood blockbuster material, doesn't it?

It does... but it's not. In fact, it's directed by a couple of Irish guys who co-wrote the film with a veteran French filmmaker... it was produced in Ireland and shot in Serbia with an English-born Australian lead actor with a largely British cast faking Irish accents.

Yeah. Chew on that for fifteen seconds.

However, in that the French dude is the visionary Luc Besson, who brought us Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element and that star is Guy Pearce we might still be looking at some Blockbuster material, right?

Weeeeeeeeeeeell...

We kick off with Pearce's character Snow, a secret service operative in the year 2079 who finds himself embroiled in an espionage case that has him on the fast track to prison. This turns out to be pretty damned convenient because at just about that time that prison experiences a massive escape and riot ensues and the prison staff and visitors are taken hostage.

This is, of course, no ordinary damned prison either! This is "MS One", an Earth-orbiting prison in space filled with the cryogenically frozen worst of the worst criminals that the USA (and beyond) can possibly condemn. The worst part? One of the hostages happens to be Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the visiting daughter of the President of the United States. And, of course, only Snow can enter the prison and rescue her aerobicized ass through every secret passage the prison has before the inmates find and eat them for breakie!

Wow... So we've already got a mixture of Escape From New York, Escape From L.A., Die Hard, Resident Evil 4 (the game) and Fortress before the similarities to other films like Star Wars, Minority Report and The Rock take over the screen.

The truth is, Lockout may not be the most original thing in the world... but it can be great fun. Maggie Grace looks great and does a fine job here while Guy Pearce is all smirks and one-liners, almost like a spoof of your typical American Action Hero. In spite of (or, perhaps, because of) this, Snow does prove to be kind of a dick! But then again, compared to such nightmare characters as the prisoners, led by the psychotic Irish brothers Alex (Vincent Regan) and Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), he's not THAT bad of a fuck.

On the flip side of the prisoners (those two are representative of almost five hundred rampaging villains) you've got the actual secret service dudes represented by bad-cop Langral (Peter Stormare) and good cop Shaw (Lennie James).

The truth is that if this film had come out a decade or two ago, it might be lauded as a less-than-brilliant, but still very original story. As it is today, it's almost impossible not to recognize pastiche after pastiche during Lockout's 95 minute runtime. Make no mistake, the movie IS fun to watch... but by the same token, its fun is based, largely, on its CGI-infused action which wasn't around when many of its antecedents were brought to the screen! At times, these are convincing and pretty good... at others, it's hard not to note that you're looking at a great deal of chroma-key and that the ultimate result looks a lot more like a decent video game than a theatrical movie.

Hell, maybe it would have worked better if writing and directing team James Mather and Stephen St. Leger had worked with writer/ producer Luc Besson on a video game of Lockout! It might have been a big hit, actually, given the right budget. Often when I saw a darkened and obvious CGI moment I felt the need to reach for a controller and save my progress.

As it stands the familiarity of the story, coupled with the overloaded formulae of the subplots make for a fun, but predictable and frequently contrived cinematic experience. Luckily, Lockout never takes itself too seriously and does its best to be a really good time. Taken for all with all, it's worth somewhere around Two and One Half Stars out of Five! A little more originality and a few less packed-in scenes to resolve the square-peg subplots that alternately drive and support the main story and this might have been a much better film. As it stands, it's still a fun time and you can do a lot worse... but you might be better served watching Escape from New York, Die Hard and Star Wars or just playing Resident Evil 4 and 5 than watching Lockout... although Lockout still beats the giant snake-shit out of Dragon Wars!!! And it sure as Havarti is Heavenly beats actually BEING in prison, too.

So... I'll see you inmates in the next reel... in space or on Earth!


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Lockout (2012)
reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
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