The prison takeover film has been a Hollywood staple for decades and Lockout runs with the formula with the only real snippet of originality being that the prison is set in space. It is the year 2079, and CIA agent Marion Snow (Pearce) is framed for the murder of another agent who was investigating stolen government secrets. Snow is sentenced to 30 years in prison at MS One, a maximum security prison set on a floating space satellite where prisoners are kept in a cryogenic stasis.
Before his sentence can be carried out, however, Snow is given a chance at a reprieve. The prisoners have broken out aboard MS One and have taken several people hostage, including Emilie, the daughter of the President, who was on the satellite on a humanitarian mission investigating the well-being of the prisoners. Snow is initially reluctant to take on the mission until he learns that Mace, the man he gave the briefcase containing information that could clear him, is aboard the prison as well. More determined to find the case rather than rescue Emilie, Snow sneaks onto the vessel to find it overrun with the most dangerous prisoners on the planet, led by Alex, and his psychotic kill-crazy brother Hydell.
The entire pretext for the prison breakout is incredibly flimsy…First the daughter of the President going into such a dangerous location with little more than a couple of Secret Service agents. Then the whole idea of the warden unfreezing perhaps the most mentally unhinged prisoner out of some 500 total is ludicrous. It would be like someone going to Corcoran Prison in California to check on prisoners and the warden wheels out Charlie Manson. And of course one of the Secret Service agents are dumb enough to sneak a gun into the interview room even though they were supposed to check all weapons. Now remember, this is supposed to be 67 years in the future...So what, they stopped using metal detectors and Backscatter X-ray machines in 2079 and now just take guys words that they are unarmed? Right…
I’ve been a fan of Guy Pearce ever since Ravenous and have always enjoyed his performances, but he seems to be trying to channel a combination of Snake Plisken from Escape from New York and John McClane from Die Hard with his performance. He forces one bad one-liner after another and ends up being more of a parody of action heroes than an actual action hero. Thankfully Pearce is bailed out by a solid supporting cast including Maggie Grace as Emilie, and Peter Stromare as Langral, the head of the Secret Service.
The action in Lockout is wildly inconsistent. On one hand the prison has an automated defense system of Death Star like gun turrets that are able to repel the aircraft of security forces that Langral sends in to re-take the prison. On the other hand, Snow is able to escape at least a half dozen times from prisoners just by running through a door and closing it behind him. Why is it he seems to be able to operate all the doors and the prisoners can’t? Lockout is a futuristic film but it didn’t have the budget ($20 million) to truly pull off a futuristic look. This unrated edition amps up the violence a little bit but this could still really pass for a PG-13 film.
Ultimately, Lockout is a middle of the road actioner that provides a mild diversion but is completely forgettable.
Lockout is a disappointment in the extras department with only two short featurettes, each running around 10 minutes.
Breaking Into Lockout (11:15) – This is a making of feature with interviews with co-director Stephen Saint Leger and stars Maggie Grace and Guy Pearce. It looks at the cycle chase from the early part of the films which I thought was really poorly animated.
A Vision of the Future (10:14) - Art directors Frank Walsh and Oliver Hodge along with visual effects coordinator Richard Bain discussing the main prison set design.
If nothing else, Lockout is a great looking film on Blu-Ray. The film is incredibly sharp in 1080p with a well-designed dark color palette.
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