The year is 2079, and government agent Snow (Guy Pearce) has been convicted of a crime he did not commit. He can win his freedom, however, if he rescues the President’s daughter from a maximum-security prison where she has been taken captive. The problem is that the prison is in space and there is a full-scale prisoner mutiny under way.
The premise of Lockout belies the fact that Luc Besson was involved with the making of the film – big scale space mission set in a weird and dystopian future. So far so good. The problem is that the film was not entirely written or directed by Besson; he handed the reigns over to first time Irish directors Stephen St Leger and James Mather, so the strong premise is sadly let down by clunky writing.
Guy Pearce is an odd choice for an action hero; he generally excels in the more cerebral and quiet roles, and it takes the audience some time to get used to this wise cracking tough guy. Pearce runs with the clichéd and over the top dialogue that he is given and actually seems to be enjoying himself, and it is this enthusiasm that keeps the movie moving forward. Maggie Grace – yes, her from Lost and Taken – plays Emilie, the President’s daughter. She is a typical do-gooder trying to save the prisoners on board MS-One, but she forgets that many of these prisoners do not want to be saved. Grace is fine in the role, but anyone who found her annoying in Taken will be less than impressed with her as Emilie. It is true that she has more to do, but she is aloof and irritating.
The rest of the cast is made up of Peter Stormare – who has bulked out in recent years – Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun. All are adequate in their roles, the only issue being that none of them appear to go through any sort of emotional journey and Gilgun is unintelligible for most of the movie.
The bulk of the special effects were created in Dublin, and it is great to know that the city is becoming recognised as a hub of creative and film professionals. For the most part, the effects work well, but there are a couple of scenes that appear to be unfinished or maybe created with a little less passion and attention to detail than we would like from a film released in 2012.
In all, Lockout is a movie with a great premise that doesn’t live up to its potential. Clunky dialogue and unnecessarily over the top expositions let the film down, but the film is not even bad enough to veer into the cult status of ‘so bad it’s good’. Instead, Lockout is messy and badly executed and Guy Pearce is not enough to save it. This movie could have been a great, if silly, sci fi adventure, but it never quite hits the right note.