Taking one page, or maybe twenty, from the big book of clichés for action/sci-fi films, Lockout is essentially a homage to this genre of film making. It totally embraces all those elements that went into making classics such as RoboCop and Total Recall such great viewing, whilst also bringing into the equation all that padding from sci-fi action films of years gone by, padding that is missing from modern films for good reason.
Set in the near future and starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace, Lockout centres around Snow (Pearce), a wrongly convicted ex government agent who is giving one chance of regaining his freedom. This is by undertaking a dangerous mission to rescue Emilie Warnock (Grace), the presidents daughter, from the rioting prisoners kept in MS:1, a maximum security prison in outer space.
Once we reach this point however the promising premise slips into predictability, even where the ending in concerned. The saviour of this film is Pearce, as the dry one liner Snow delivers with absolute conviction are the highlights of an otherwise mundane screenplay. The character is magnetic, charming and Pearce plays the protagonist with style and aplomb.
He constantly reminds us of why we are sticking with this film, that is both exec-produced and co-scripted by Luc Besson, and he keeps you going even when things give a whole new meaning to the word ridiculous. Grace also does a good job of fuelling Snow’s fire, and their chemistry works well, albeit in an unexpected way.
As far as the actual action goes, it is pretty decent, when it isn’t hopelessly rendered against copious amounts of sub-standard CGI, and the gun fights and chase scenes are a lot of fun. Apart from a few green screen spectacles, the film does quite a good job of integrating the practical sets, and the use of a gritty lens masks the low-budget value of this production.
There is a similarity between Lockout and the John Carpenter classic Escape From New York, and this is intentional as this is just one of the many films that this feature has cribbed to create an action by numbers adventure that takes us on a journey through the last few decades of action and sci-fi film clichés. It is also evident from the outset of Lockout that aficionados of the genre will want to like it.
It has all the making of a futuristic thrill fest, from the simplicity of its premise to the fact that is has Luc Besson on board, the man responsible for bringing us the likes of The Fifth Element. This is someone who certainly knows his way around this kind of film, but its a shame the dramatic moments aren’t done better, as these are what really let the film down.
Overall, Lockout does what it says on the tin, provides what you expect from a film that screams action and sci-fi from its posters, and proves once again that Pearce is one of our most underestimated actors.