STARRING: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter
Stormare, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun
2012, 95 Minutes, Directed by:
James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
term of its premise Lockout is a variation on an oft-told story: a tough
but ironic hero is sent to rescue a hostage – a beautiful blonde, naturally –
being held by a ruthless enemy.
As conceived by Luc Besson, and
brought to the screen by Stephen St. Leger and James Mather, it’s becomes a
slick and adrenaline-filled science fiction action film. You won’t leave the
theater having new insights on the human condition, but you will have had a
great ride . . .
Snow (Guy Pearce) is wrongly
convicted of espionage in a future United States and is to be sent to a new
maximum security prison. It’s in orbit and the prisoners are in “stasis,” a form
of suspended animation that not all of them will survive. By coincidence, the
president’s daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace) is visiting the prison on a
Due to an overzealous Secret
Service agent, a crazed prisoner named Hydell (Joseph Gilgun) is allowed to
escape. He soon has revived the nearly 500 frozen prisoners on the station, and
they’re not happy. One of the prisoners, Alex (Vincent Regan), takes charge and
Emilie and the other non-prisoners are held hostage.
Back on Earth, two options
present themselves. Langral (Peter Stormare), the security chief who is
convinced Snow is a traitor, wants to stage an all-out assault on the prison.
The more even-tempered Shaw (Lennie James) has a better idea. Send Snow into the
prison to conduct a one-man rescue operation. Guess which becomes the chief
"You won't leave the theater having new insights on the human
At that point it’s just a
matter of ratcheting up the action and suspense while allowing for scenes where
Snow and Emilie exchange snappy banter. She definitely doesn’t care for his
attitude. The feeling is mutual but they’re stuck with each other. Savvy viewers
ought to figure out where this storyline is going as well.
Lockout isn’t the stuff
of summer blockbusters (there’s a reason it’s being released in mid-April) but
it works thanks to its fast pacing and the shrewd casting of Guy Pearce. It’s a
role any action star could have played, but the one-liners and asides would have
sounded like words put in the character’s mouth by the screenwriters.
Pearce is an actor before he is
an action hero, and his contempt for his foes and wry outlook towards his
increasingly desperate situation comes out of his character. He’s posturing, but
he plays Snow as someone who knows it. We wouldn’t mind seeing him in another
Maggie Grace starts out playing
the spoiled daughter of privilege but getting down and dirty as the story
progresses, even allowing her looks to be transformed partway through. The
various heavies chew the scenery in fine style, sketching their characters in
Suffice to say that while some
things turn out as expected there are surprises along the way. Besson, St. Leger
and Mather are clearly well-versed in the formula they’re playing with here,
giving it enough tweaks so that we don’t get too complacent.
Lockout is a solid SF action
movie that may not challenge audiences, but it doesn’t treat them like idiots