Movie Review: Lockout
An amalgamation of several campy action films of the 1990’s, Lockout is a fabulously absurd and wonderfully silly action film that waste little time with nuance, logic, or the rules of time and space.
It seems pretty clear that everyone is in on the joke; the filmmakers (it took two people to direct, and a third to write), are pithy. The scenes are short, the dialogue clichés, and it apparently takes mere minutes to travel from Earth to outer space (and back again).
The world’s most advanced maximum security prison is also the least secure, and though it is located in space, it is just as impregnable as the plane from Con Air and the truck from Fast Five, which is to say not at all. This one may be the most simple to hijack, as it seems to take one quick shot from a pistol to blow up a couple rooms, and of course to incite chaos, there is a lone button to open up and awake all 500 prisoners.
With Lockout, however, you wouldn’t want it any other way. An arrogant and toned Guy Pearce is our hero, and one of the few reasons this movie works. His character, Snow, may or may not have killed someone he shouldn’t have, and is thus sentenced to 30 years on this space prison. Just as the figurative hammer drops, as luck would have it, he is needed to save the day.
The president’s daughter, played by Maggie Grace, happens to be visiting the prison for reasons passing understanding when things go wrong. Instead of sending in the Marines or enacting some contingency plan, Snow is apparently the only man for the job (The Avengers, this is not). And just in case you aren’t sure, there is a serious actor who says just those words, and everyone instantly believes him.
He makes such comments with a straight face, as do many other actors reciting similarly ridiculous lines, phrases like, ‘you only have five minutes,’ ‘you’re gonna have to jump,’ and, ‘I hate heights.’ All of those are utterly predictable, but they are timed and delivered with such surety that they are completely enjoyable in their ludicrousness.
Save for a shaky, video game-esque motorcycle chase, the film is mostly easy to watch, neither becoming too frenetic and jarring in an attempt to be serious and real, nor too slow and boring in an attempt to be dramatic.
For some reason, though, it does try to be somewhat compelling. Why does Snow volunteer so quickly to go on a suicide mission to space? Was he set up? And what exactly are the people who run the space station doing to the prisoners? The answer is ‘who cares.’ Thankfully the film doesn’t spend too much time trying to contextualize these questions and provide answers, instead mostly focusing on gun fights, chases, explosions, and showcasing a lot of really dumb people.
Suspend all belief when watching Lockout, because the filmmakers certainly do.