A Luc Besson-produced, action thriller, set in the future, and space, with an A-List Hollywood star having to protect an innocent and untrained woman. No it's not The Fifth Element, but rather the new Guy Pearce vehicle Lockout. He plays a wise-cracking, wrongly imprisoned bad ass called Snow, and for reasons best ignored is sent up to a floating maximum security prison in space to rescue the President's daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace) from the clutches of the inmates. While on paper Lockout sounds like the aforementioned Willis-starring actioner, it is actually more like a re-imagining of Escape from New York.
For an action thriller like Lockout to work on a basic level there are certain markers that must be passed. The action must be visceral. Check. The action hero must be a loveable rogue. Check. His one-liners must be delivered with a comic edge and pure alpha male charisma. Check. A solid supporting cast. Check with Peter Stormare and Lennie James excellent as always. And the villains should be suitably insane. Definitely check with Vincent Regan's straight-man played off hilariously by Joseph Gilgun who gives a completely unhinged performance and has a lot of fun doing it. So with all that in place, why is it that Lockout doesn't work?
Most of the problems with Lockout come with the special effects and the general story pacing. The opening scenes with an extended chase scene, are at first exciting and then devolve into the sort of special effects that were outdated in the late 1980s and they continue throughout. This is not such a huge problem, but it is distracting in this day and age and Lockout looks a bit like an old Nintendo game. The real issues are with pacing and structure however. The film-makers have gone to great lengths to pitch the story in the future, which is intriguing and interesting and then treat the audience to an hour of 'protagonist gets into a locked room, the bad guys break-in, brawl, escape and repeat.' Even the climatic ending is completely mishandled and when the credits roll, the audience feels short-changed.
With the cast, central idea and environment in place, Lockout should have been good enough to reach the heady heights of late 1980s action films. Instead, other than some good chemistry with the leads, Lockout must be considered a disappointment considering the potential it had. Still Pearce is worth seeing, if only because he really cuts loose and has some fun.
Rating: * *