Cast: Marion Snow (Guy Pearce), Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), Alex (Vincent Regan), Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), Harry Shaw (Lennie James), Scott Langral (Peter Stormare)
Director: James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Theatrical release: 04/13/2012 DVD Date: 07/17/2012
Rating: Running Time: 95 minutes
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Review: I kept expecting — hoping — that the screenwriters of Lockout would take what was sure to be a familiar storyline and stock characters down a new pathway or off in an unexpected direction but, alas, it was not to be. It's a watchable film but a completely forgettable one as well.
Guy Pearce stars as Marion Snow, some sort of government operative that is framed for killing a close friend — and apparently a co-worker or another agent of some sort. I could be wrong about their professions here, but they really aren't important; the point is the film needs a hook to compel Snow to go on what it likely to be a one-way trip into space, and blackmail is as good as any. What's so important up in space? Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the liberal, do-gooder daughter of a conservative, law-and-order President, has been taken hostage on board MS-One, an orbiting maximum security prison. Why is she up there? Prisoners rights or mental health concerns or suspicious medical research; again, it doesn't really matter. She is required to be in a situation where she needs to be saved, and Snow is the man for the job. Seen this movie before? Of course you have.
I was more interested in the initial frame subplot, which had some potential and could have been really interesting. Unfortunately, the screenwriters simply needed something to bookend the rather mindless activity on board MS-One so didn't put much effort into working these parts — the opening and closing scenes — of the film. There is a clever element to it, but that's about it.
Being that this is a sci-fi thriller set in outer space, there are a lot of special effects. Most are really quite good. In fact, only two scenes look really cheap. One is an early one, when Snow is chased by through Manhattan. Most video game developers do a better job with graphics than the filmmakers did with this sequence. The other is when Snow and Emilie escape from MS-One. It looks like it was put together hastily and without much thought; more than a few laws of physics are broken here.
I think there would have been a bit more suspense had MS-One had more of a claustrophobic feel to it, but the place is enormous, with vast open spaces. True, Snow and Emilie get themselves in a couple of tight spots, but never to the point of causing viewers to think something terrifying was about to happen. (Alien this is most definitely not.)
The actors are all OK, though I think it probably helps a bit if you're a fan of Guy Pearce and can overlook his all too common smirkiness — not sure that is a word, but it's descriptive — that he brings to almost every character he plays in almost every film in which he stars. A little bit of him goes a long way, and I was weary of the character quite early.
Lockout is rather short, around 90 minutes or thereabouts, but not nearly as tautly directed as you might think given its length; there is quite a bit of rom/com-style sparring between the damsel in distress and the knight in shining armor that takes away from what little action/suspense there is. It's also worth mentioning that this is, in my opinion, a really hard PG-13, mostly having to do with some extreme, sometimes excessive violence.