Lockout is the latest cheap action thriller to be produced by Luc Besson, the man behind Taken and the Transporter films. He also receives a small credit for creating the story but the script is mostly written and directed by amateurs James Mather and Stephen St. Ledger. The plot is simple. In 2079, a man wrongly convicted of espionage against the US is given the choice of a thirty year stasis in prison, or of rescuing the President’s daughter from a group of homicidal maniacs aboard a maximum security prison floating in space.
For some of the more hardcore movie fans who have seen John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, you will quickly realise the resemblance is uncanny. The hero is a man named Snow played by the brilliant and underrated Guy Pierce. He is gruff, and rude; his straight-to-the-point humour one of the film’s saving graces. Other actors would find the dialogue hard to manage and become too cheesy and overdramatic but Pierce does a stellar job. Maggie Grace plays the President’s daughter, Emilie, whose acting in the first hour is as bad as her running in Taken. Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun are the psychotic villains leading the prisoners with what sounds like Scottish accents, and Lennie James and Peter Stormare play CIA operatives, the latter wanting to put Snow away for life.
Expectations for this film should be low. Anticipation of a cheap action film with silly dialogue and thrilling action sequences with some bizarre killings are expected, but even then it fails to deliver that on a decent level. The action is underwhelming with some great special effects for the prison in space, but some of the worst effects you will see in the modern age during a futuristic motorcycle chase. There is very little character development for Snow, and no explanation why he is the perfect man to send into M.S. One (the prison) as he doesn’t seem to have a particular set of skills, taking an ass-kicking for the first forty minutes. All he seems to have is a muscular body, ability to take a beating and also dish one out, along with some sharp humour. It isn’t explained until the last minute of the film that he was in the army, something that should have been revealed far earlier.
The film attempts to make Emilie likeable by making her care about the treatment of inmates but really we don’t care if she does get killed. Regan and Gilgun are good as the villains, especially the latter who is unrecognisable from his Emmerdale and This is England days. Pierce is the only one who does a grand job and saves the film from being a complete disaster. The film isn’t even so bad it’s good: it’s just so bad it’s bad. The dialogue is poor, laughable not for its cheesiness, but because it is just so wooden and flat. There could have been some memorable action sequences that would have promoted this film to cult status, but they are poor, unexcitable and directed in a horrible manner. Overall, this is a film that could have been a very good, switch-your-brain-off kind of film, but, instead, it’s not even worth watching on DVD.
Rating: 2 out of 5