Lockout is an action movie. It makes no excuses for that and despite it’s limited budget performs surprisingly well. Guy Pearce plays Snow, a CIA operative who has gone rogue and in the opening scene is being viscously beaten by a colleague interrogating him after his capture.
Meanwhile Maggie Grace plays Emilie Warnock the president’s daughter who is travelling to a space prison to investigate the possible problems of keeping prisoners in space in stasis.
These two things seem unrelated until (surprise surprise) there is a breakout on the space prison and the prisoners take control, and take Emilie hostage. The CIA offer Snow a deal that he can avoid any further sanctions for his treachery if he travels to the prison and rescues the president’s daughter. After an emotional struggle that lasts all of 10 seconds Snow accepts.
Snow travels to the space prison through some of the worst CGI ever committed to film. It’s like the producers have taken the team who did the graphics for Green Lantern, tied their arms together and made them wear very, very dark sunglasses. You would feel cheated if you saw this standard of graphics on a games console, let alone here in a movie.
Once there he is pitted against a team of prisoners led by brothers Alex and Hydell. Proving that every Scotsman in a film must be in prison, just out of, or just on the way to prison these two provide a nasty counterpoint to Snow’s misunderstood anti-hero. Vincent Regan is strong and methodical as Alex, however it is Joseph Gilgun, making his leap from British movies and TV who dominates. His psychopathic, unhinged, rabid Hydell is packed full of tricks and flips, and although it feels like a ‘look what I can do’ performance, Gilgun has certainly left a calling card for Hollywood.
The strength of the film however rests with Pearce and his ability to play the wise-cracking action hero with skill and perfect timing. His character may have been written as a sub-standard John McClane, a screenplay written by committee has never been so obvious, but Pearce works relentlessly to squeeze every drop of charisma out of the script. His relationship with his command on Earth, played by Lennie James, is fraught and tense but it is Snow’s relationship with Grace’s Emilie that allows Pearce to really show off.
Grace is building a reputation for herself in action movies and here again proves that she is more than capable of holding her own in these environments, how she would perform in a serious drama is hard to tell, but she certainly proves here to be more than window dressing.
The direction team of James Mather and Stephen St. Leger handle the action sequences well on their debut. They ramp up the tension where necessary and allow their performers space to make up for their lack of experience. It is a shame that the screenplay was not more ambitious because after an interesting premise and a competent set up the story trails off into all to familiar territory.
Lockout is not going to challenge for any awards but as a Friday night popcorn movie it contains some strong performances that are hard to ignore, especially from Pearce, Grace and Gilgun.
- Watch the First 5 Minutes of LOCKOUT Starring Guy Pearce (collider.com)
- Video Interview: Guy Pearce Talks ‘Lockout’ & ‘Prometheus’ (screenrant.com)
- WonderCon 2012: LOCKOUT Panel Recap; Maggie Grace Screens First Footage (collider.com)
- Poster for LOCKOUT Shows Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace (geektyrant.com)