This Friday saw the release of two new genre films, The Cabin In The Woods and Lockout. As you may have heard by now, The Cabin In The Woods is one of the best films of 2012. But what about Lockout?
Well, let’s just say that it’s no Cabin In The Woods.
Co-written by Luc Besson, Lockout takes place in the 2079. The world is pretty much exactly the same as it is right now with the exception of the fact that there’s a big space prison orbiting the Earth. The prisoners — who we’re told early on “aren’t here for traffic violations” — are kept in a state of suspended imagination. Though the process apparently has the side effect of making the prisoners even more psychotic than before, keeping the prisoners in “stasis” also keeps the prison relatively peaceful. However, as usual, lefty do-gooders are concerned as to whether or not “stasis” is humane and they basically end up ruining the whole thing and getting a bunch of people killed.
While the president’s daughter (played by Maggie Grace of Taken and Lost fame) is visiting the station in order to investigate whether the prisoners’ rights are being violated, the most psychotic prisoner is revived so that she can interview him. Why they would select this prisoner — out of the 400 that they have — to wake up is anyone’s guess. Anyway, this leads to that prisoner escaping, all the other prisoners waking up, and the president’s daughter being held hostage.
Who can save her? Well, how about a surly and disgraced former CIA agent named Snow (and played by Guy Pearce)?
The main problem with Lockout is that, with the exception of few welcome moments, it’s never quite as fun as it should be. This is a film that opens strong (with a witty interrogation sequence and a thrilling chase scene) but it’s almost all rapidly downhill from there as the film fails to come up with anything to match the excitement of the first five minutes. The space prison, itself, is well-designed but the prisoners within are a pretty bland and predictable bunch and they make for boring villains. (The one exception is Joseph Gilgun as a half-blind, gleefully insane maniac named Hydell.) Maggie Grace made for a perfect kidnapping victim in Taken but she’s a lot less convincing here. Listen, I’m about as independent as you can get and I’m proud of it but I can guarantee you that if I was trapped in a prison and surrounded by potential rapists, the last thing I would do would be to give attitude to the one guy who has been sent to rescue me.
Especially if that guy was Guy Pearce! Seriously, this film has its flaws but Guy Pearce is not one of them. Whether he’s telling off his superiors and informing Maggie Grace that she’s on her own as far as getting off the space prison is concerned, Pearce is pure surly sexiness. Ultimately, Lockout works best as a showcase for Pearce and he makes the most of it. He looks good beating people up, he’s a better actor than Jason Statham, and he’s got a sexier voice than Ira Glass. He’s such a charismatic animal that, if he hasn’t played Stanley Kowalski in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire yet, somebody better hurry up and cast him.