Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Lockout

Here’s the deal with a project like Lockout.  With some decent script rewrites, a director with an eye for visual flair and a special effects budget to match, as well as an A-list talent attached to this project, what you might have on your hands is a summer tent-pole.  And without these elements, what you’re left with is a few vaguely familiar faces going through the motions in a stale forgettable film that barely warrants a short theatrical run in January.  Given that the only thing you might remember about this movie is a cleverly edited trailer, I am going to leave it to you to figure out which of the two aforementioned avenues the creative team took in making this movie.

Honestly, Lockout is the kind of script that doesn’t really get shot anymore.  It feels like a leftover project from the days when studios would green-light almost anything knowing that it would turn a profit downstream on the Home Entertainment (DVD) side of the business.  Still, Director James Mather and Producer Luc Besson seem at ease with the knowledge that clearly this is a B-level movie that will not even be memorable enough to be panned for its mediocrity.  At times they seemingly allow the cast to revel in this awareness.

As for the plot of Lockout, it is very straightforward.  Guy Pearce’s Snow has been set up for a crime he has not committed and in the interest of completing his mission and clearing his name, he agrees to rescue the first daughter from a super maximum-security penitentiary.  The catch is that his jailhouse resides in orbit around the earth.

There’s not a whole lot of meat on the bones of this film to truly disect.  Guy Pearce is a very good actor who has made a few very poor film choices (of late) but I am still trying to figure out if his performance in this film is a stroke of genius or just a matter of coincidence.  Throughout the film, Pearce acts like he does not care in the least about all that is going on, but ironically, his character is required to act like he (wait for it) does not care in the least about all that is going on around him.  Thus, as he spits out painfully contrived dialogue, I am left to wonder if his lack of conviction is born from disdain for the poorly written script or if he is in actuality playing things straight.  I will say that the mix of apathy and really cheesey dialogue makes Pearce’s Snow the only remotely entertaining aspect of the movie.

As for the rest of the film, it is a disaster.  The movie is littered with people you vaguely recognize cast in roles that are similar to others that they’ve played in the past.  So you can’t help but feel like you are watching a series of recycled performances.  Peter Stormare, Lennie James, Peter Hudson, and Vincent Regan clearly are not worried about being typecast.  And as for Maggie Grace, there is nothing about her performance that feels genuine and the moment she first appears in the film, it becomes apparent that her only purpose will be to trade barbs with Pearce’s Snow in a futile attempt to drum up some sexual chemistry.

Sadly there are no special effects or clever twists that can rescue this film and almost zero entertainment value to be found between the opening and closing credits.  I would tell you to avoid this movie at all cost, but I suspect that the film is so inconsequential and forgettable that the likelihood that a project like this is actually on your radar is nil.  If you’re looking for Guy Pearce to turn things around, then there is hope.  He is set to appear opposite Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3 due out next summer.

Standout Performance: Guy Pearce...maybe.


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