Published Apr 12, 2012As easy as it might be to dismiss B-grade trash like Lockout, a propulsive and comically cynical throwback to the sort of things John Carpenter was making in the '80s, there's a definite sense of tonal and narrative specificity that acknowledges its ludicrous plotting without alienating the audience by winking and praising its cleverness.
It's Escape from New York in space, liberally borrowing the plot of the clumsy L.A. sewer-surfing sequel with the bon mot spouting, wrongfully convicted Snow (Guy Pearce) agreeing to rescue the president's daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), from a space-bound prison called MS-1, where the cryogenic prisoners have awoken and taken her hostage.
Within this simple, yet convoluted plot is a mysterious missing briefcase that can clear Snow's name should he find his old partner that hid it, who, as luck would have it, is one of the frozen prisoners.
This quest, which is sustainable mostly through intense pacing and wholly entertaining setups, is fraught with bizarre unlikelihoods, such as a security guard killing himself to give Emilie an extra 30 seconds of oxygen, despite it logically not making a lick of difference. What's entertaining is that Snow is as amused by the setup as we are, doling out an endless array of one-liners while reluctantly saving whiny do-gooder Emilie from serial rapists and psychopaths.
Even more amusing than the seedy, sarcastic tone is the realist subtext about sainthood being little more than naive idealism performed by those that have never been confronted with struggle or strife. Emilie's original quest to protect an entire prison full of criminals from space travel experimentation ultimately implodes when they decide to attack her, making her empathetic disposition somewhat less PR-friendly.
But while the "kiss my ass" attitude of this relentlessly entertaining genre flick succeeds in its dark, cultish aims, the blurry, Sound of Thunder-esque CGI and superficial secondary characterizations – Maggie Grace has the unfortunate task of delivering unrealistic dialogue designed specifically to set up Pearce's one-liners – keep it from low grade excellence.
Still, this irreverent genre satire manages the same "fuck political correctness" sensibility of other recent Luc Besson-produced actioners like Taken, which alone is well worth a big screen gander. (Alliance)