Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lockout Not Quite A Knockout


Lockout is the type of action film that makes you long for action film of the 80s. Before the evolution of the thinking man’s action hero which we have today, the hero of the 80s had an “I could careless” swagger and a smart wisecrack for every villain he faced. This is what made characters like Escape From New York’s Snake Plissken such a treat to watch. The influence of John Carpenter’s action classic can be spotted throughout Lockout and directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger are not ashamed to show their love for that film on their sleeves.

The most notable influence can be found in the lead character of Snow (Guy Pearce). Set in the future, Snow is convicted for a crime he claims he did not commit. In order to gain back his freedom, Snow agrees to go on a dangerous mission to rescue the President’s daughter Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) after she is taken hostage while visiting a maximum security prison in outer space. As is expected with films of this nature, getting both himself and Emilie out alive proves far trickier than Snow anticipates. Snow must shoot, fight, and literarily blow away those who try to stand in his way.

As Snow, Guy Pearce is both smug and charming all at the same time. He is always trying to get under the other characters skin through his zippy one-liners. His mouth often seems to be one step ahead of his enemies and allies alike. Pearce really seems to revel in the opportunity to let loose with the uber cool Snow. He is the main reason the film holds up for as long as it does. It is a shame that the rest of the cast does not live up to Pearce’s performance.


Truth be told, there is very little for the rest of the cast to do in the film. Talented actors such as Lennie James and Peter Stormare are wasted playing underdeveloped characters. This is evident when looking at the character of Emilie. Maggie Grace, in yet another woman who is abducted role, spends most of her time looking scared or preaching about why the other hostages need to be saved. While she is suppose to be that hard-headed female who constantly butts head with the hero, Grace does not seem to have the necessary spunk to pull off the role. The character of Emilie is written in such a way that you have no real emotion either way on whether or not she will make it out alive. It becomes increasingly frustrating when the film starts to link Emilie to Snow’s conspiracy plot.

The conspiracy aspect would have been far more engaging had the villain been more memorable. However, this is not the case at any point in the film. All of the villains in the film, especially the convicts on the prison, are utterly forgettable. They lack any distinctive traits or sense of humour needed for a villain in this type of film. This brings us to the main problem with Lockout, the film takes itself far too seriously in the latter half. What starts out as a fun mindless science fiction action romp turns into a plodding whodunit of sorts by the end. The last act in particular really kills any bit of momentum the film had up to that point. Lockout should have been a film that consistently kept that carefree 80s action film vibe throughout its entire scant running time. Unfortunately, the end result is a film that, like its main character, thinks it is more important to the world than it actually is.

5 comments:

  1. Good review CS. There was nothing too spectacular or inventive about this film, but it pure, campy, sci-fi fun and that's all I asked for. Also, great to see Guy Pearce in a starring role for a mainstream flick. It's been awhile. A long while actually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is great to see Pearce get a mainstream lead again. He was easily the best thing about the film.

      Delete
  2. I agree with most of what you wrote. Pearce's character lost his appeal for me sooner that it did for you, I think. He was trying to play a poor man's Snake Plisken and it showed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I while I agree he was the poor man's Snake, I was still willing to go with it for the most part.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous9:08 am

    I sure agree with the review, however since one had nothing to suspect it held well against movie such as Total Recall and Loopers. Which i have both since in the Cinema and was disappointed with.

    So to say, this did better despite of its few flaws (just my opinion, who grew up with classic 80s & 90's movies).

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.