There’s something wonderfully brilliant about a popcorn flick that does almost everything right. While car chases, shootouts and explosions are almost always entertaining in their own right, it’s a strong leading character that can help change audience reactions from, “Well, that was fun for what it was,” to “I cannot wait to see that again!” Lockout, starring Guy Pearce, has that strong lead; however, it also unfortunately barely made a bleep on the box-office radar when it was released back in April, so there weren’t many reactions to be changed in the first place.
Hopefully that will change with the home release of this hidden gem, as Lockout is hugely entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny and completely brimming with over-the-top ludicrous action-packed fun. While the plot is one we’ve seen a hundred times before (though this time in space!) it’s the leading character Snow that really makes this film one worth watching.
Snow (Pearce) is an ex-government agent who’s been wrongly convicted of murder and conspiracy against the United States, and when we’re first introduced to him, he’s chained to a desk while being interrogated by another government agent, Scott Langral (Peter Stormare). Langral wants answers about what Snow was involved in and is willing to beat them out of him (or at least he’s willing to get his lackey Rupert to do it, to which Snow snickers, “I’m being beaten up by a guy called Rupert?”) The wise cracks continue throughout the interrogation, and Langral gets nowhere.
Soon after, Snow is sentenced to 30 years isolation for his crimes without a trial of any kind; however, things take a turn when the impenetrable maximum security prison that he was going to be sent to (in space!) is compromised and taken over by the inmates – while the President’s daughter is on a reconnaissance mission there. That’s right, the tried and true method of placing a member of the President’s family in harms way works once again, and as per usual, there’s only one person who can save her. This time, that person is Snow.
The plot is quite similar to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (where a convict named Snake is offered immunity for his crimes if he breaks into a prison and rescues the President); however, the execution, in my eyes, is better done here. Lockout knows it’s a popcorn flick, and never tries to be anything but, which leads to some very entertaining moments and interactions between characters.
Another similarity between Escape from New York and Lockout are the main characters that drive their respective films. Snake and Snow are both anti-heroes of sorts who are out for themselves as much as they’re out to do the right thing. Well, Snow actually plays it a little closer to the “good guy” side of things, albeit with enough quick witted comments and badass actions to keep him from being your average golden boy.
When it all comes down to it though, it’s the superb performance by Pearce that truly makes Snow the amazingly fun character he is. Pearce completely embodies Snow, and the way he delivers his witty remarks depending on the set-up and or mood of the film at the time is flawless. It’s completely obvious just by how he acts on screen that Pearce had a lot of fun with this character, and while he unfortunately won’t gain the recognition that Kurt Russell did when he played Snake, I honestly believe that Snow will garner his own cult following as time goes on.
Credit must also be given to the supporting cast, who help flesh out this fun feature (try saying that five times fast). Maggie Grace continues to impress while getting into trouble, this time as Emilie, the President’s daughter. This is the second time she’s been the damsel in distress for writer Luc Besson, with the first being the smash hit Taken, where she played Liam Neeson’s kidnapped daughter. The two main villains of the film, Alex and Hydell are played very well by Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun respectively; while Stormare and Lennie James do solid work as the two agents trying to negotiate with the prisoners while Snow does his thing.
On the production side of things, first time directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger (who also co-wrote the film with Besson) do a remarkable job bringing the space prison MS One to life. This is not an easy film to make the first time out, but these two made it look like they were old hands at directing action movies. The pacing they set for the film is perfect, never leaving any points where the story slogged along, or having any real downtime where the viewer could get antsy.
Besson, who is no stranger to success in the action genre, once again hit the nail on the head with Lockout – at least when it comes to entertainment value. And while theatrical success wasn’t in the cards this time around, I believe it’s only a matter of time before people discover Lockout and all the fantastically brilliant fun that comes along with it.
The video quality for the Blu-ray transfer is top notch, with crisp and clear visuals throughout. The audio quality is solid as well, though some of the prisoners have some thick accents; so don’t be surprised if you find yourself putting on the subtitles from time to time in order to comprehend what they’re saying. Still, this is a great audio transfer, with wonderful sounding explosions and clean, clear sound effects throughout.
This is definitely a movie where I would have liked to have seen some making of footage, or heard from Guy Pearce about his experience in the role of Snow, or even a director’s commentary to hear how these two first timers felt about working on such a big project in their debut; however, there are unfortunately no special features to be found here at all.
Lockout is a popcorn movie through and through that’s carried to greatness mainly by its main character Snow, played brilliantly by Guy Pearce. While there’s no doubt that the movie will be a little too over the top for some, I found Lockout to be sheer entertainment from start to finish, and I can quite honestly say that I cannot wait to see it again.
Alliance Films presents Lockout. Directed by: Saint & Mather. Written by: Luc Besson, Stephen St. Leger, James Mather. Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Peter Stormare. Running time: 95 minutes. Rating: R. Released: July 17, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: guy pearce, James Mather, Lockout, luc besson, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Stephen St. Leger