Synopsis: A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. (Guy Pearce) is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president’s daughter (Maggie Grace) from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.
It was a Saturday evening following a long day of drinking in the sun. I was sobering up and had a couple of hours before it was a reasonable time to pass out in a pre-sleep hangover; the worst kind of hangover. My brain, being the consistency of a squashed watermelon following 6 or so hours of being hammered with booze and a heat it had not been accustomed to for a number of months, was not in a fit state to concentrate on anything.
I needed a movie that required little concentration on storyline and had enough regularly placed explosions to jolt me from any sleeping. Essentially I needed something incredibly dumb and very loud.
Google those two words with Netflix and you’d probably get Lockout. The dumbest movie I have seen in some time. Also, quite fun.
Guy Pearce does his best Snake Plissken impression in what is essentially Escape From New York in space. Pearce plays Snow, the mono-monikored CIA agent about to be sent to America’s top Maximum Security Prison, a space station in low orbit around the earth where the prisoners are kept in stasis for the duration of their sentence. When the President’s daughter is stranded following a prisoner outbreak Snow is sent in to rescue her and clear his name.
Lockout is a French/UK funded production, steered by Euro action master Luc Besson, directed by two first time Brit directors and filmed on location in Eastern Europe. Given the combination of all of those factors it is as you would imagine it to be; schlocky, cheesy action with plot holes you could fly a space station through and an FX budget meaning HD is not it’s friend. But if you accept it for what it is an disengage your frontal lobe at the outset then it’s a fun way to kill 90 minutes. The script has enough humour and well placed action set pieces to keep it from being a straight to DVD production.
The credit for the film’s positives has to go, in most part, to the standout central performance from Guy Pearce. He is all cheesy one liners and perfect timing. Only Jason Statham could have delivered such a deliciously pantomime hero performance and been so instantly forgiveable everytime he opened his mouth or smiled. Second in line though for performance of the movie goes to Brit actor Joseph Gilgun who does one of the best comedy psycho performances this side of Nicholas Cage as Castor Troy in Face/Off. His performance full of sinewy twitches, wide eyes and a growly Scotch accent. I last saw him in Shane Meadows seminal This Is England series where put in a tremendously restrained performance in contrast. One to watch.
Outside of that the cast of B-list US screen and British stage actors pretty much phone it in. For most I imagine it was a paycheck and free trip to Eastern Europe rather than the compelling subject matter. Vincent Regan is his normal intimidating self. It’s a shame he hasn’t enjoyed the same career as Gerard Butler because they are essentially the same except Regan is a much, much, much better actor.
All the brain switching off aside though I have to admit that the boundaries of stupidity were crossed in a final 10 minutes that felt like they ran out of budget and had to wrap things up. Without spoiling anything it does contain the worst parachute scene since Angels & Demons. If Felix Baumgartner saw this movie I think he would have a mild stroke.
Conclusion: Guy Pearce and Joseph Gilgun make this movie far more enjoyable than it deserves to be. Even ignoring all of the ridiculousness before it can’t saver the ending from being incredibly dumb and undercooked though.
Verdict: 5/10 Not a terrible way to spend 90 minutes
Directors/Writers: James Mather & Stephen St Ledger – First time Brit directors. Mather is an accomplished cinematographer with an extensive body of work
Producer: French purveyor of uber Euro schlock action movies
Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan, Lennie James, Joseph Gilgun
The main antagonist brothers are named Alex and Hydell. Alek Hidell was an alias used by Lee Harvey Oswald.