Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lockout (2012) - Movie Review

If only Guy Pearce would have suffered from the same memory affliction he had in Memento, it would have added a nice wrinkle to his character.  Also, having no short-term memory would have likely made Lockout easier to watch.  This review is going to be spoiler-heavy, so skip to the end if you're planning on watching this soon.

Guy Pearce stars as Snow, a former government agent wrongly accused and convicted of a crime he didn't commit.  Lockout begins with Snow being interrogated by Peter Stormare (who seems to be reduced to playing ridiculous characters) and flashing back to the events leading to his capture.  As Snow's recalling the events, you are treated to one of the worst CG-chase sequences I've seen in a very long time.  It looked like something from a bad video game, except video games tend to have better cut scenes.  I've seen better CG on SyFy.

Anyway in this scene, he's riding a motorcycle that doesn't have a front wheel.  It's unsure if they just didn't have the budget to CG in the front wheel, or in the future we have super-motorcycles that no longer need front wheels.  The whole scene was awful looking and you could barely tell what was going on.   At one point the hover-copter he's being chased by explodes for no reason at all.  This also sets up the exchange of some briefcase to Snow's partner that contains something important, but we have no idea what.

Next, we're introduced to Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the President's daughter who's on a humanitarian mission to MS:One, a penal colony in Earth's orbit.  She wants to make sure the prisoners are being treated well, as they are held in stasis and it's believed that it has adverse affects on their sanity.  This immediately makes you wonder, if they are held in stasis, then why even bother with an outer space prison?  You can't just have them held in stasis on Earth for much cheaper?  Doesn't having a space station increase the chances of something going wrong by like a million?  They try to explain that the underwriters of the prison are secretly using the inmates as guinea pigs to test the effects of deep space on humans, but seemed like a poor script excuse to justify having the space prison in the first place.  Space exploration is never brought up in the movie again either.

They bring one prisoner (Joseph Gilgun) to talk to Emilie and it's clear that this prisoner is mentally disturbed, so you know it's going to go well.  Again, you have to wonder why did they pick that prisoner?  Maybe pick a prisoner that wasn't nuts before he was put in stasis.  Naturally, things go wrong; the prisoner escapes, manages to bring the prison population out of stasis, and take hostages.  The crazy prisoner is joined by his less-crazy brother, Alex (Vincent Regan), who takes the leadership role.  I don't know what the prisoners wanted, because I don't think they ever actually made any demands.  It didn't matter, because they pretty much killed all the hostages anyway, even though Alex pointed out that they needed the hostages as bargaining chips.

Anyway, forced to act, Snow is tasked with sneaking into MS:One and getting Emilie out.  Snow has no interest in going, but he agrees after finding out that his partner was captured and is on MS:One.  Snow's real goal is to find out the location of the briefcase exchanged earlier, which can now help prove his innocence.

Once Snow gets on MS:One, it's basically Die Hard in space, with Snow sneaking around and crawling through tunnels and air ducts.  In a way, Lockout will remind you of older, 80's action films.  Nearly every line of dialog felt like a bad one-liner.  However, this is one of those movies where you question nearly everything said or done as making no sense or being totally illogical.

For example, once Snow first finds Emilie, he attacks the inmate escorting them in an attempt to rescue them.  Even though he is clearly dressed as a agent and not a inmate, and just finished attacking the inmate that's with them, Emilie's response is to hit Snow in the head with a fire extinguisher.  She doesn't ask who he is first or notice that he was trying to rescue her.

At one point, they make sure you point out the scene is taking place on Earth by putting an "Earth" at the bottom of the screen.  Oh, is that where we are now?  Earth?  I never would have realized that considering everything else in the movie has happened on Earth and they haven't even hinted at being on other planets.

Later in the movie, a space station appears out of nowhere and crashes into the prison.  We're then told that MS:One needs constant monitoring or it will crash back into Earth.  Why have a space station that if left unmanned for even short period of time, will crash into the Earth?  How does that make any sense from a design or safety standpoint?

Finally, at the end there's this big space action sequence where a huge squad of space fighters assault MS: One, but all they do is fly around and not shoot, even though their goal is to destroy the station.  Meanwhile, they all get picked off one-by-one by the station's automated defenses.  One of the fighters flies up the middle of the station and drops a bomb that has a 30 second countdown to add dramatic tension.  In one last ridiculous sequence, Snow and Emilie jump out of the station just in time, manage to not burn up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, deploy parachutes and safely land on the street just seconds later.

I feel bad for Guy Pearce.  I think he was really trying here, and even seemed to have fun, but he deserves better.  The dialog he's forced to recite here is eye-rollingly awful.  It's not just his dialog either, the whole movie is a poorly written mess.  Lockout was co-written and directed by Stephen St. Leger and James Mather, and I really hope this isn't the best they can do.  Luc Besson also shared writing duties and we are told that this was based on an 'original idea' from him.  If that's the case, he's run out of ideas, or at least ideas that couldn't have also been conceived by a 13-year-old.  There's also very little blood or language, so it manages to preserve a PG-13 rating and utlimately I think that's who this will appeal to best.

I wanted to have fun with Lockout, but I just ended up getting annoyed with how stupid everything was.  There's never any real tension or anything to make you care about what's going on.  Overall, Lockout is mess.  The actors are doing their best, but they aren't given much to work with.  I've said this already, but it really is a bad video game come to life.  It's a rental at best.

1.5 (out of 5) Death Stars

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