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Film Review : Lockout

Apr 20, 2012 11:32AM ● By Justin Buettner

The Lockout stars Guy Pierce as Snow, a federal agent who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Set in the future, Snow is sentenced to 30 years at a space station prison that keeps prisoners in a sleep state. The president’s daughter Emilie, played by Maggie Grace, is on the space prison leading an investigation about the humane practices of the prison when a jailbreak occurs. This leads to the space prison being taken over by the inmates. Government officials strike a deal with Snow to recover Emilie. While on the mission  Snow learns there is an inmate that may have information to clear his name.

Luc Besson, the writer and director behind such movies as Taken and the Professional, was a co-writer and a producer on this film. He should be more careful about what he attaches his name to. The ideas of a good movie are present, but the Lockout feels like it was rushed into production with a very limited budget and almost no time spent on the script. In fact there is a special effects scene that is so horribly done that it made me laugh in surprise that something so half heartedly slapped together made it on the screen. The rest of the film features basic but passable effects, something you’d expect more from considering the science fiction nature of the movie.

The script itself feels like a first draft chalked full of ideas and scenes from previous movies. It’s not hard to pick out scenes from famous films like Die Hard and the premise could easily be called Escape From New York in space. Most movies have elements of movies that came before, but it is often a good idea to at some point put your own voice and spin on the story. Lockout never gets to that point. The movie moves from point A to B without a single surprising twist mixing in terrible dialogue for good measure. The decision to bookend the movie with a laughably bad subplot about a corrupt federal agent that hardly makes sense certainly didn’t help get the movie started off in a good direction or end it on a high note. I can see the promise of the premise, but the script needed several more drafts of work, probably by a far more competent team of writers.

The acting in the movie is probably what you’d expect from a low budget action movie. Guy Pierce fills the lead role, and is believable in the action but is completely lacking in the area of charm or likability. Maggie Grace is not a strong enough actress to share the burden of a lead, especially in a movie where the script and dialogue does nothing to help her.

 The movie was co-written and directed by a pair of first time filmmakers James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. The only movie credit between the two prior to this movie is a vocal role in the Wallace and Gromit movie. The pair were not up to the task in handling the effects in addition to the screenwriting. They also directed each scene as if they were reading a how to manual, so while the story is clear, very little was added in style, flair or tone. The film made no attempt to capitalize on tension or drama and almost played like a big screen sitcom TV show.

Ultimately Lockout would have been better served as a Scyfi Channel movie. It lacked the star power or the quality to be deemed a big screen release and as a result the movie crumbles under the weight of expectations. Lockout is the type of low budget action movie that if you happened to see on TV on a rainy day, and you were really bored, you might find it entertaining enough to see it through but if you pay $10 to see this in the theater you will feel cheated, and deservedly so.   

Films like Lockout : Escape from LA, District B13, and Sudden Death

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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