Review – Lockout


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Review – Lockout
Prison Rules
Lockout (2012)
James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan
Release Date:
Age Rating:
I’m not going to patronize you or the production of Lockout itself by throwing around insipid criticisms such as ‘derivative premise’, ‘simplistic plotting’ or ‘clichéd characters’. These are the complaints of those who a)have missed every single piece of promotional material and b) lack the capacity to appreciate the notion of entertainment for entertainment’s sake.

Yes, Lockout has been repeatedly shanked for its numerous faults. But I still laughed, gawped and smiled for 96 straight minutes.
And honestly, Guy Pearce can be held accountable for the bulk of that.
"Nobody SMOKES anymore, Snow!" ... That's how you know he's cool.Enlarge Enlarge

As droll, ex-CIA protagonist, Snow’s scathing wit and lethargic, irreverent charm glues this feature together, drawing attention away from glaring issues with a sarcastic shrug or well placed jibe. Pearce does so well, his dialogue crafted with such care, he actually detracts from his supporting cast.

While every slur, quip or politically unsuitable remark was obviously crafted, meticulously, it bewilders that the remaining screenplay lacks similar polish. Maggie Grace, to her credit, composes herself well in a lacklustre role. Elsewhere Vincent Regan (300’s Captain) adds some gravitas to Derivative Prisoner Boss #1 while Joseph Guilgun annoys as Derivative Prisoner Boss #2.
Snow insults the President's daughter. Then stabs her. And punches her. He's a class act.
Snow insults the President's daughter. Then stabs her. And punches her. He's a class act.Enlarge Enlarge

Irish directors James Mather and Stephen St Leger make their feature debut, previously known for CG short Prey Alone. This time, armed with a $20mil budget the pair’s aptitude for visual effects comes receives some international recognition with a duo of significant space battles, some computer enhanced stunt work and a high speed motorcycle chase (notably reminiscent of their debut short.)

These effects hold up majestically with the notable exception of the latter chase which looks like a Saturday morning cartoon. Interestingly, this stretching and bleeding of the budget endears rather than aggravates. Saint and Mather are obviously determined to keep the pace from sagging, sacrificing even the film’s presentation to achieve this end.

We all have imaginations. Doesn’t hurt to employ them occasionally... Besides, in a world of $200m blockbusters which look pretty but lack spectacle, it’s a refreshing stance.
Conversely, Snow goes to great lengths to highlight the difference between 'Apple' and 'Gun'
Conversely, Snow goes to great lengths to highlight the difference between 'Apple' and 'Gun'Enlarge Enlarge

Sadly their more traditional action needs some work. Lockout’s numerous fights, chases and gun battles are decidedly pedestrian by comparison, lacking the dynamism and majesty of their green-screen counterparts. Bear in mind, this isn’t something tighter choreography and clear photography can’t improve over time.

UltimatelyLockout is a middling prison break feature with a novel setting, sprinkled with occasional spectacle and propped up with a magnetic central performance. Snow distracts from the lagging middle act, while Saint and Mather’s dynamism reminds you why you paid the price of admission.

Yes, for all this flash, Lockout’s memory tends to diminish over time. It’s just a shame everyone is treating it so seriously, hammering it so gravely despite its tongue-in-cheek nature and shamelessly flippant tone.

Lockout isn’t stunning science fiction but inarguably deserves a hell of a lot more praise than is currently coming its way. It concerns space-ships, cryo-stasis and base jumping from the top of the world.
Folks. Seriously. Lighten up.

6 Stars
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