A penitentiary in outer space mini-blockbuster that bears not the least resemblance to a brother from another planet galactic excursion, Lockout could be best described as an all-inclusive genre soup. In other words, a sort of sci-fi action prison thriller comedy noir somewhere in the near future. And that is so overstuffed with thematic topics – not to mention input from no less than two directors and three screenwriters – that the movie comes off as if telegraphing a whole lot about practically nothing at all.
Directed by novice helmers James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, and co-written with Luc Besson who also gets credit for the story idea, Lockout stars Guy Pearce as Snow. He’s a detained former US government operative who has been framed, but is promised exoneration if he agrees to take on an immensely dangerous assignment. That is, to rescue Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the daughter of the US president. Who has been taken hostage in an outer space maximum security prison full of ferocious rioting lunatics, while touring the facility.
Now, before you might start wondering why the presidential family celeb and her entourage would be hanging out in such cringe-worthy confines in the first place, she’s apparently some sort of snobby do-gooder. Not to mention that the state of the art futuristic slammer prides itself on having perfected inmate docility. Namely, by maintaining the bothersome population in a nearly constant state of what seems like induced comas. But some of the nastier cons have managed to free themselves from chronic zombification for a bit, and are holding Emilie hostage in exchange for their release.
And faced with an offer virtually impossible to refuse – especially after getting tied up and smacked around for a while by a bunch of unfriendly G-man – a wise-cracking even under extreme duress Snow heads over to his grueling assignment. And for most of the remaining duration of this bleak cat and mouse prison corridor chase, divides his hectic time between outsmarting assorted psychopaths and engaging in mutually negative romance with the First Daughter.
Lockout simply lacks the suspense, tension and momentum to qualify as a classy thriller. Along with redundant action scenes that seem to feel – no matter where they proceed or how – like the actors are ending up in the same monotonous, claustrophobic place. Not at all helped by a dialogue punctuated with odd comic relief, when straight up raw conflict would have been the cure.
1 1/2 stars