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Movie Review: The Lockout

Jason Roestel image

Jason Roestel wrote this review 4 years and 6 months ago

1     0

I'll cut and paste the review I wrote for a National site yesterday. Normally I would just link to the review, but I have no idea what the etiquette is here on FilmBuffet.

My Lockout review:


Directed by: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger

Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan

The Plot: A really tough guy played by a guy named Guy is set up by a Secret Service agent to take a fall for a murder he didn't commit but then the President's daughter is captured and held hostage on an orbital space prison but the extremely violent and temperamental convicts don't know who she really is so the tough guy is sent in to rescue the girl but then the convicts kill the space prison's engineer so then the whole penitentiary is flying completely out of control and the tough guy must find the girl and rescue her and also uncover who's responsible for setting him up for a murder he didn't commit before the prison falls through our atmosphere and crashes into the Eastern Seaboard of the United States...

And yes, I'm very aware that I didn't use any punctuation at all writing the synopsis above. What I really wanted to do was write it all out as a single, epic, freight-train of a word. Incomprehensible, but it would have personified this absolutely stupid movie perfectly.

The Film: Legend has it that Ed Wood used to write his scripts in one long session of chain smoking, gin drinking, and rapid-fire typing. I'm not saying this because Lockout feels like an original Ed Wood Jr. film experience. On the contrary, I appreciate Wood's work for its incurable sincerity. I merely point this out in this review for Lockout because the script for this film feels like it was born through Ed's frenetic writing process - but maybe updated for more modern vices.

I envision James Mather and Stephen St. Leger (the twin scribblers who wrote and directed this threat to science fiction) skipping the gin drinking altogether, and instead, chain-snorting methamphetamine while putting their Final Draft 8 software through its paces in a single, dope-charged, sixteen-day-marathon of sleepless, demonized creation.

Lockout isn't a film without ideas. In fact, it has enough ideas to support fifty scripts - almost all of them thinly veiled rip-offs of Michael Bay's The Rock.

To give the filmmakers credit I don't think I've seen another movie that craved my attention so badly. Lockout will do almost anything to keep your focus - definitely not your hearts - on itself. It'll put needles in the eyes of its heroine, (Maggie Grace - modern film's platinum herald of awful) trap her in an elevator, steal her oxygen, allow her scrappy Samaritan (Guy Pearce - 20 lbs. heavier with muscle and shwitty dialog - shwitty being a word I invented by cross-pollinating the words sh*tty and witty with each other) to punch her in the face, and put her at the terminal mercy of two lead villains - Scottish brothers and criminals - who speak English about as coherently as they plan low-orbit prison escapes. 

Poor little Maggie Grace is entrusted with the role of cosmic punching bag.

Which I'm thinking will be perfectly fine with most of you.

At a subconscious, introspective level, it's as if Lockout  (if we examine it as a living, breathing, Ritalin-eschewing organism) knows that there's absolutely no substance to itself. That if it doesn't constantly juggle chainsaws, and kittens, and bowling balls, and cattle prods, (IE: by manufacturing rudimentary traps, threats, conspiracies, and bloodshed for Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace to navigate) your precious attention might stray and the film will be a failure.

It's a failure anyway. But few films before this one have the courage to collapse under this much plot-weight, with this much vigor and ruin.

If you can ignore it as a film, or indeed the film it wants so desperately to be, (a collision of Peter Hyam's Outland, John Carpenter's Escape From New York, and The Rock of course... we can't forget The Rock) and take it purely as a piece of performance art, Lockout is a Satanical feast for our cruelest appetites.

It is bad enough to get a kick out of. It is not, however, worth spending a single penny for the privilege. I saw it for free this week and haven't yet been able to shake the feeling that I somehow paid a price.

This is a prison break film that feels grossly underpowered. Underpowered in storyline, in character development (these people are, literally, who they look like) in digital effects work, (you can actually spot the point in the film where the effects department ran out of funding - it's during the scene where they rip-off JJ Abrams Star Trek just in case you were curious) in Foley design, in its science, in its fiction, in its originality, and in its conviction.

Instead Lockout's a plot boiler of incoherent dialog, neutered action sequences, brutal film editing, (it's like they fed the original film stock through a Teppenyaki Chef...) and enough bad CG to build a Gungan Godzilla out of.

Guy Pearce should probably know better. He's been in a lot of great stuff (LA Confidential, Memento, The Proposition, The Hurt Locker, The King's Speech...) and probably didn't need to nudge Vin Diesel out of a role he built his entire career, and in turn, his extensive Lamborghini collection, out of. But as good as Guy is, he's just not Diesel. At least Vinny makes this kind of ultra-fabricated-tough-guy-movie-crud charming. I can watch a Vin-level film, but only if Vin is in it. I don't need a thespian with Pearce's gifts slumming through this territory with a wink and a big, knowing grin on his face.

It just comes off as sarcasm.

The Verdict: Lockout isn't science fiction - it's SyFy. It's that straight-to-network destination where high-octane and low-budget slam into each other with all the dignity (and mess) of rutting hogs. Replace Maggie Grace with Debbie Gibson... which, now that I just wrote it, makes perfect sense no matter what film you're casting. But put Debbie in this film, add a nettling-yet-trendy little "SyFy" logo to the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen, and you really would have a film bad enough to clear SyFy's standards and practices.

Lockout is an unmitigated DISASTER.



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