April 12, 2012 by Vinnie Leduc
Is it Taken in space? No. I’m just glad it’s not the disappointing Unknown in space. Luc Besson’s latest production, the sci-fi action thriller Lockout, is comparable to his previous, Colombiana. But what made me like it over Colombiana is Lockout‘s reckless audacity and sheer ridiculousness. It’s like a cheap county fair ride that’s an obvious and janky rip-off of a Six Flags attraction, but the bottom line is it’s fun as hell while still managing to deliver the thrills. Just don’t expect much beyond that.
The debut of directing/writing duo James Mather and Stephen St. Leger (with some help from co-writer and producer Luc Besson), Lockout doesn’t take itself seriously at all. I didn’t know it was gonna be part comedy, but I found myself surprisingly amused with Emmy winner Guy Pearce’s portrayal of the most recycled protagonist in recent entertainment history. Cocky, arrogant, selfish, egotistical. His wisecracking character is the stereotypical early ’90s action hero with a slight hint of Jack Sparrow. This Guy farts cheesy sarcasm out of his mouth when he’s not kicking ass with his muscles that have muscles (he’s considerably bulked up for Lockout). It’s far from the seemingly sophisticated role he’ll have in the upcoming Prometheus, another sci-fi flick that we’re highly anticipating.
The jerky hardass is a microcosm of the movie itself, which borrows (to put it very nicely) from too many other movies and video games to list. Here’s the set-up: a wrongly convicted protagonist with a bad attitude is given the chance to earn his freedom by saving the President’s daughter, who’s held hostage by inmates who’ve overrun a prison. Every phrase of that synopsis can be tracked back to more than one previous movie or video game. But Lockout doesn’t seem to give two sh!ts. Shamelessly ripping off dozens of stuff that came before it, it has resurrected its own Frankenstein of action thrillers… but in space!
Lockout is a decade or two late. The heavily green-screened, previous-gen CGI might’ve been passable… in 2002. The depiction of 2079 is like what people imagined the future to be… last century. You know, unnecessary automated voices, thick metal doors sliding vertically and slowly, loud beeping and booping from omnipresent devices and machines, an overload of computer-font subtitles telling you who’s who and where multiple times. Lockout‘s a brainless and corny popcorn movie like Wrath of the Titans, except with extra cheese.
But despite all of that, I truly enjoyed it. Lockout tries to have fun, be funny, and nothing else really. Works for me, if barely. It sucks that it’s PG-13, but Lockout could’ve easily been rated R, and I have a feeling the video release will include an unrated version. It’s by no means a good movie, but its C+ grade gets a little boost for being such an entertaining don’t-give-a-ffff joy ride. Lockout gets 3 out of 5 stars or B-.