Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lockout (2012)

Directors: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Notable Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace

I don't care how he's involved, but slap the name Luc Besson on anything and I'm there. With "Lockout", the prince of French awesomeness produces and co-writes a science fiction actioner that's both completely unoriginal and hilariously brilliant at the same time. Critics came out of the gate with mostly mixed to negative reviews and its hard for this cult film fanatic to disagree with many of their complaints. I have to admit though, the combination of "Escape From New York" and "Die Hard" on a space station simply appealed to me and "Lockout" does it with enough tongue in cheek and charm to ultimately win me over and then some.

Snow (Pearce) is an ex-CIA operative working on the outside of the system in the future. When a back-up sting goes horribly awry, the sarcastic and charming Snow finds himself in a very bad position on his way to be frozen in a maximum security space station in orbit around Earth. Unluckily for him, right about the time he is to be shipped off a break out on thus mentioned prison occurs and the President's daughter Emilie (Grace) is taken hostage. It's a volatile situation and there seems to be only one man who can go in there and save the looks like its about to Snow.

I love the fact that the film points out how nobody smokes anymore. One more reason to love this character.
Normally I love to start with the good aspects about a film, but in the cast of "Lockout" I think I need to start on the flip side of the coin. The obviously stolen plot from "Escape From New York" is never really original. The film tends to move in a very cliche fashion with its odd focuses on horribly odd situations for our hero whose (naturally) a wrongfully accused man placed in one of the worst situations thinkable. His romantic subplot with the President's daughter is an obvious one that never really makes sense outside of being one we've seen a million times and the idealistic themes of the film about traitors, the greater good, and being humane have been done to death in films like this. Will the anti-hero grow a conscious? Will they fall in love? Will he even come close to failing? If you don't already know the answers to these, then you'll find "Lockout" refreshing and not cliche at all. For those of us dedicated to the action genre and all of its ridiculousness, then you already know how the film plays out.

You would think you would use your good eye to peak around a door. Just saying.
The trick to "Lockout" is that never, ever did I feel like I cared that it was formulaic and essentially a rip off of some of the greatest action films of all time. I just didn't care. The film sold itself so well with quirky characters, charming dialogue, and strong action sequences that these faulty foundational script problems were irrelevant. With some clever chase sequences (seeing our hero hit a window and NOT go threw it was amazing) and great fist-to-cuff fights, the action is strong enough that the faster than lightning plot progressions never seem out of place. The directors ably make us buy into its ridiculousness (using humor and characters to sooth our minds) and it just simply works.

"You said 'stick a needle in my eye'...and that's a PROMISE!"
That's not it though. Even with strong action, pacing, and humor there is one element that easily carries this film through its rough patches and cliche formulas. Guy fucking Pearce. His portrayal as the ever asshole Snow is impalpable in charm. Even though he's a guy that you really do hate on many levels its hard as hell not to root for him. It's an instantly classic anti-hero character. He's a dick to everyone with relentlessly smart ass comments and beyond that he's generally not a great hero. He hates heights. He gets shot. He can't really even stand the sight of blood spouting off "yuck!" when he has to change out a bandage. Yet we really do root for him the entire time, eating up every snarky comment, and really loving every second he's on screen. Even though this film bombed in theaters, film makers would be stupid not to franchise his character. Plain stupid.

"What do you mean this movie bombed in theaters! I never saw that coming!"
"Lockout" isn't a great film by any means as it really does play out the cliche elements way too much in its plot. It has some odd CGI moments (the unicycle chase through the city) and many of its 'surprise' twists aren't surprises. Yet the film is undeniable B-grade action gold with a spot on anti-hero played to full potential by Pearce and its top notch 80s inspired bombarding action pacing. This is a film that you are either going to love it or hate it and for Blood's an instant classic cult film.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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