Luc Besson returns to the fore with Lockout, an all-action space-based romp. Maggie Grace stars alongside Guy Pearce (who’s to be jettisoned back into the sci-fi spotlight with Ridley Scott’s much anticipated Prometheus) as the President’s daughter who somehow manages to end up amidst an inmate breakout in the all-new prison MS:One that orbits the Earth. Just another day at the office for Grace then, who found herself kidnapped in the cult hit Taken.
The year here is 2079. Guy Pearce’s character Snow is contracted the job of rescuing Emelie as a means of dodging a 30 year stasis sentence to spent aboard MS:One. There is little reasoning behind the secret service’s choice of man, except that he can take more punches in the opening minutes of the film than most people could in their entire lives. This lack of explanation is echoed throughout the film as one chaotic blunder (one of Emelie’s suits managing to sneak a gun into an interrogation room) leads speedily onto another (Emelie being mistaken for a doctor because she happened to put on a labcoat just moments before).
Lacking the intelligence Besson impressed with in The Fifth Element, Lockout is a film that isn’t sure what it really wants to be and, as a result, never truly engages the viewer. We’re bombarded with fight scenes that tack the film together without being complemented with any real storyline. The jeopardy present reeks of TV movies and bad 80’s films but presents some of the film’s more playful moments.
Guy Pearce does well as the smart-mouthed wise guy Snow and his one-liners provide the film with most of its fun. Taking Pearce’s cue, the audience are invited to join in the plain daftness of the plot, making his presence instrumental in making the film watchable as opposed to it being a space crash of a movie.
The afore-mentioned silliness balloons as the film wears on and we watch as Snow pierces Emelie’s eye to bring her back to life amidst the inmates’ ill-judged demands. Stereotypes are present in their droves here too, we’re greeted with the much maligned good cop-bad cop routine, a crazed imprisoned rapist as well as a cardboard cut-out of a president (a man whose reaction to the plight of his daughter is about the same as if he were handed a sandwich). The inevitable ending provides a neat if not slightly hashed together twist.
Lockout is unashamedly action-packed – those looking for a high-brow sci-fi flick had best look away now.