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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare
DIRECTED BY
James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
SCREENPLAY
James Mather, Stephen St. Leger, Luc Besson
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
95 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
FilmDistrict
DVD EXTRAS
2 featurettes ("Breaking Into Lockout", "A Vision of the Future: Production Design & Special Effects").
 "Lockout" Review 
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Hollywood's latest entry in the "shamelessly fun thriller" category, Lockout is almost solely recommended on the strength of Guy Pearce's spirited and downright fun performance as Snow, a falsely accused ex-government agent given a chance at freedom if he can successfully rescue the President's daughter (Maggie Grace) from rioting prisoners at an ultra-max security prison in outer space.

Sound ludicrous? Oh, it is. Lockout is also ridiculously schlocky, relentlessly spirited, overloaded with action and immensely entertaining in the popcorn flick kind of way.

The real joy here is that Pearce, not really an actor that one would associate with this kind of film, proves that really solid acting actually does make a difference even in the most action-packed cinematic experience. There's nothing brilliant about Lockout other than watching Pearce's irreverent but never silly take on this ridiculously macho action hero.

In other words, one can only hope we see this kind of performance from Pearce again. Wouldn't it be weird if Lockout was the flick that finally makes this immensely talented actor a household name?

I counted probably a half dozen action film cliche's in the Lockout trailer alone, but who cares? Sometimes, you want to go to a flick and simply let loose, kick some butt and have a great time. Lockout is the perfect film for those who enjoy stylized, over the top action to scream at the screen and high-five each other with boyful and joyful glee.

You will find yourself thinking about Snake Plissken or John McClane while watching Snow, whose deadpan humor brings to mind those 80's action heroes with heart, humor and the ability to survive and thrive through absolutely ridiculous circumstances such as, in this case, skydiving through space and landing perfectly on what amounts to an urban road amidst absolute madness.

Yeah, this ain't real but it sure is fun to watch.

Women may not find themselves enjoying Lockout quite as well as will men, mostly owing to the more limiting performance by Maggie Grace as Emilie, the President's daughter who has arrived on MS-One for a humanitarian mission. One gets the sense that co-writers Besson, Stephen St. Leger and James Mather were trying to create that sort of love/hate chemistry for Snow and Emilie but there are too many times when the hate overpowers the love and the film gets a bit mean-spirited towards its damsel-in-distress.

Joseph Gilgun is a ridiculous mess, I mean that in a good way, as Hydell, a psychotic prisoner who manages to start the riot while Peter Stormare shines as a fed who isn't quite trusting of Snow.

St. Leger and Mather are first-time directors here, but Lockout succeeds well enough that they'll likely find themselves helming projects again. They occasionally, especially early in the film, rush the action sequences and dilute their impact but by the time the action lands on MS-One they've pretty much nailed both tone and pacing for the film.

Opening alongside several other films, it will be interesting to see if this throwback action flick can gain any traction at the box-office. While Pearce has quite a bit of critical credibility, he's not really known as an actor who can open a film. One can only hope that audiences seeking an action alternative will give Lockout a chance.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
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