Dir. James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, France, 2012, 96mins, in English
Review by Ash Verjee
Given this film was based on an ‘Original Idea’ by Luc Besson, it’s unsurprising Lockout plays with all the plotting and thought of a hastily scrawled post-it note stuck on a computer monitor. Actually, it feels more like Besson awoke from a particularly vivid Michael Bay-infused dream, grabbed Milla’s lipstick from the dresser, and in semi-darkness wrote “THE ROCK’S GREAT. DO THAT”, Danny Torrance-style on the bathroom door.
Guy Pearce stars as Snow, government agent, convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. So far so yawn. He’s supposed to be bullish and cocky, but you know, a maverick. He even wears a t-shirt saying “WARNING: OFFENSIVE” just in case we don’t get it. In fact there’s all kinds of Brechtian signposting going on here. We’re used to establishing location shots overlaying a title – often in computer-font accompanied with bleeping – stating where we are. Lockout does this with the characters and includes a brief line about who they are, like “MACE, SNOW’S ACCOMPLICE”.
I’ve just finished Uncharted 3 on PS3 and when a computer game’s less patronising and more involving than a film, you know you’re in trouble. The problem is Pearce’s arrogant egotism comes off as apathetic. Most of the time he looks bored, or worse, reading thrice-recycled quips from a cue-card off-screen. Similarly, Maggie Grace, the teeth-grindingly annoying Shannon from Lost, proves just as tedious here as the President’s daughter, investigating Human Rights violations on board an orbiting space prison when she’s taken hostage by the freshly thawed inmates.
This futuristic cosmic Alcatraz incidentally, looks like it’s manned by about nine staff. So we’re still in a recession then. The only person who looks like he’s having any fun is Joseph Gilgun playing a psychotic inmate, and if you ever wondered what Woody from This Is England might look like if, following Lol dumping him again, he went on a killing spree and was frozen in stasis on a galactic Shawshank, look no further. He’s ten kinds of cheese and ham but he’s a fizzy foil to Vincent Regan’s unscary lead revolter. There’s also a bizarre kind of two-minute montage that’s supposed to serve as a subplot-closer at the film’s end, after which Grace and Pearce walk off into the sunset, chuckling that his first name is Marion. Ha! He’s so tough and he’s got a girl’s name! LOL. I’m aware that this all makes me look like a curmudgeon unable to let go and have fun, but this is all rather depressing.
Besson’s better than this and Pearce’s latest three-minute viral as Mr. Weyland for Ridley Scott’s upcoming Prometheus illustrates once more what a fine actor he can be. Unfortunately, Lockout is an extended set-piece, a two minute trailer time-stretched to ninety minutes; an action movie of this sort should fly by in an exhilarating, kinetic rush, not make you feel like you’re doing time.