Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lockout: A Review


If Lockout had even tried, it could have been good, goofy fun.  Instead, as one watches this hour-and-a-half film, Lockout goes from bad to inept to disaster to inexcusable with every blink of the eye.  It's almost as if directors (yes, there are TWO directors) James Mather and Stephen St. Leger (who also co-wrote the film with Luc Besson from his original idea) were aiming to make one of the worst films of the year and despite themselves actually EXCEEDED their expectations.  Lockout manages to bungle just about everything, embarrassing everyone involved and making us wonder why this film was ever let out of the keyboard.

Snow (Pearce) is suspected of murder of an undercover agent from whom he took a briefcase.  In amazingly short order our smart-aleck antihero is convicted and sentenced to 30 years statis (basically be frozen) up at M.S. One, a prison for the most ruthless and dangerous criminals up in a satellite. 

Up in M.S. One, we have Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) the First Daughter, there to investigate conditions.  She suspects that prisoners are being used as experiments for deep-space travel (I figure to see how they will survive being up there for long periods of time).  Needless to say, there is a massive breakout while she's there.  The prison may have 500 or more prisoners, but we soon focus on two prisoners (Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun).  The former is on the whole smart and tough, the latter is the crazy sidekick (they are connected, and while I am pained to reveal the actual connection, here's a hint: listen to their accents and wonder why they are similar).

Being the First Daughter has its privileges, primarily the need to have a rescue.  Take a guess as to who is asked to rescue Emilie?  Snow (were you shocked) at first refuses, but on learning that his partner in crime Mace (Tim Plester) is there, he decides to go because Mace is the only one who knows where the mysterious briefcase is.

In short order, Snow finds Emilie, they instantly dislike each other but need to work together, Mace is found (and found to have become virtually unintelligible), Emilie has a chance to escape (which of course she doesn't take), the criminals are defeated and we find that there is some kind of connection with the briefcase.

I don't think Lockout had an actual script.  Instead, I think Lockout had an outline and the actors really were, to slightly misquote Sunset Boulevard, making it up as they went along.  I can't believe that anyone could have rescued the film from being dreadful.

The problem with the script, therefore, is that it's a mess.  Things go by so quickly we do begin to wonder if major chunks of the story were cut to make it shorter.  I don't expect there to be a massive amount of exposition, but it would be nice to know exactly who these people (apart from Snow and Emilie) are, let alone what's really going on.

Take for example the opening.  We jump straight into a chase.  Apart from knowing that it's Snow that being pursued, we really don't know anything about what's going on.  Why is he being chased?  Why is he being so targeted?  Why does everyone assume he is guilty?  Who is Mace and why is he helping Snow (he is just a voice on the phone)?  How does Mace know what's going on (does he have some surveillance activity that we are not privy to)? 

There is really far too much going on in the first few minutes to try to figure everything out.  By the time he's caught and we see the bad cop/good cop routine (and wonder how Snow could be so stupid as to be taken in by the good cop), we jump into the First Daughter in Space story.  We know that the briefcase hunt will eventually have some role in the film (what or how exactly we can't find a logical reason for but there it is) but that all has to go by the wayside because we need to get to the action part.  By the time we get back to the briefcase business, it seems to come from another movie altogether.

As I kept watching Lockout with some degree of sadness that a good opportunity was being wasted I started wondering about the two villains.  I figure they gave their names at SOME point in the film but damned if I remember ever hearing them.  I just kept wondering why it felt like, given their accents, someone had abducted Gerard Butler's brother and cousin and forced them to appear in a movie.

Really, Lockout asks us to swallow a lot of nonsense.  Take for example when Snow and Emilie finally reach the escape pod.  When he walked away from it, turning his back on it BEFORE IT LAUNCHED I already knew the damn thing was going to be empty.  Please, at least a little creativity.

Guy Pearce in Lockout has a what I've dubbed the Bartha role.  For the uninitiated, a Bartha role is a part in a bad movie (and more than likely knows its a bad movie) for at least the money (in Justin Bartha's case, the money AND an all-expenses paid vacation to Thailand).  Pearce I think figured Lockout was absolute junk and decided not to take it seriously. 

This isn't to say he was terrible or that he didn't work hard.  In fact, he looked like he put in a lot of time at the gym and delivered the quick quips at a steady pace.  He knew what he was doing.  It's highly unlikely anyone else knew what they were doing.  In short, Pearce played the part of the wisecracking tough guy with the ready comeback as well as anyone with such lousy material could.

I will digress slightly to say that Plester's role of Mace (especially when he goes bonkers and becomes incoherent) reminded me so much of Justin Bartha's role of Brian (the kidnapped mentally handicapped brother) in Gigli.  It was in his mannerisms primarily, but I flashed back to Gigli when seeing Mace.

Now, there are things in Lockout that don't appear to make any sense.  WHY is Main Villain Number One automatically the leader of this breakout?  Why doesn't he form a real army (for all indications point out that while he has a small court, the majority of the escapees are just standing around, waiting perhaps for an apology from their agents)?  Again, the mass population comes and goes whenever the story needs them, since for the most part only Villains Numbers One and Two appear to be of any actual importance. 

The lowest point might be when Snow and Emilie do actually escape from M.S. One.  I'm really suppose to believe they jumped out of the floating satellite and fell from outer space, past the Earth's ozone layers and fall almost gently onto land almost as if jumping from an airplane? 

Please, a little credibility.

Lockout again could have been fun if it had decided to put just a little bit of intelligence or coherence in it.  You know where everything is going, you know how it's going to turn out.  If it doesn't ask anything from me, why would I give it anything in return?


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