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Theatrical Review: LOCKOUT

Drew Tinnin

April 12th, 2012

Have you seen the trailer for LOCKOUT? Then you know what you're in for. It's guilty pleasure, popcorn sci-fi with questionable effects work and head-scratching setups that force you to not only suspend your disbelief but actually give up on the film making any sense in order to enjoy it on a simply base level. LOCKOUT is a misfire, but it's a fun misfire that riffs on '80s action classics and B-movie space operas.

What elevates the film considerably is the A-list talent involved. Guy Pearce brings the snark, the biceps (who knew?), and the star power to the disenfranchised special-ops soldier Snow, who seems to long for a world where Chuck Norris reigned supreme and everyone still smokes a pack a day. Ironically, the story centers around convicts escaping cryosleep, but Snow is the one that seems like he was frozen in time only to awaken in a future he really doesn't want to have anything to do with.
Suffering from space dementia, the prisoners in LOCKOUT's orbiting intergalactic penitentiary have an ally in the President's daughter, Maggie Grace, who shoots up through the atmosphere to investigate a possible cover up. She's headstrong and genuinely concerned, but she finds herself over her head when her suspicions prove correct and the patients start running the asylum after a dramatic escape that frees every malcontent on the station. As she narrowly avoids being attacked and ravaged by the inmates, her only advantage is the fact that the prisoners in charge don't realize who she is and what a bargaining chip they possess.

Inexplicably, in what ends up being an unintentionally funny moment, the not-so-obvious solution is to fly Pearce's Snow up to the heavens on a one man mission to save the President's daughter. It seems odd that a fully staffed, fully operational facility would only have one escape pod, but the master plan is to get her on it. However, there are lots of corridors, gravity machines, and nut cases in their path. Eek!

The storyline is filled with flaws in logic but once Grace and Pearce start bickering like a futuristic version of Maddie Hayes and David Addison, they're surprisingly watchable at times amidst the chaos of their surroundings and the plot's more ... questionable moments. As a witty, highly trained neanderthal of sorts, Snow is forced to match up to the classy, sure-footed, and overly concerned sensibilities of Grace's character - and the dynamic between them just works.

Peter Stormare plays the earthbound villain in control of Snow's fate and the one with his finger on the button when the International Space Prison begins to hurtle towards the blue marble below. He's slimy and heartless in all the right places, but ultimately underused. It's the unintelligible Scottish maniac Hydell, an unhinged Joe Gilgun, who really brings the crazy, an indicator that he probably had the most fun on set.

The action varies from car chases to subdued space battles, but mostly consists of a lot of running around and bumping into things. Although seeing Snow fight in zero gravity and blow the heads off unsuspecting convicts with high-powered, time-triggered laser beams is the highlight. Strangely, the extended chase scene to start the film is the most kinetic and thrilling of the bunch even though it's not anywhere close to being a fully rendered effects extravaganza.

During the opening frames of LOCKOUT, as you find yourself laughing at Snow's comebacks between punches and the stylized credits, you might start thinking that LOCKOUT is planning on surprising you by being better than you thought it would be. The real surprise, and treat, is that Guy Pearce decided to take the role of Snow in the first place. I would gladly watch a spin-off with his character or applaud if Snow had a cameo in EXPENDABLES 2, but I probably won't be watching LOCKOUT again. It's enjoyable enough and worth catching at some point, but the premise and main character don't reach their full potential.


Grade: C

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