Luc Besson‘s latest produced project Lockout is another high concept low delivery sort of film. Lockout tries mashing together Blade Runner, Die Hard and Escape from New York, but the outcome isn’t nearly as impressive. It’s actually a complete bore, with little bloodshed and not enough memorable one-liners, despite lead star Guy Pearce trying his best to sell you on his new badass persona. Lockout fails because of its low budget and a pair of directors that have no idea what they’re doing behind the lens.
In the near future the US government will establish a prison system in space. It is home to the most dangerous offenders in the world and once you’re sent there it’s basically lights out. They put the inmates into a deep sleep, which allows for safety and convenience, but by doing so they create extreme risk of a violent outbreak should an inmate be woken up and given free reign over the prison. Deep sleep causes prisoners to become a little crazier than usual, which is a big concern for the President’s daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace).
Emilie goes to the prison searching for answers to some conspiracy questions that relate to the possibility of prisoners being used as test subjects for deep space travel. She boards the ship and starts to conduct an interview, which ends very badly.
The government is running out of options and time, so they hire badass Snow (Guy Pearce) to sneak his way onto the prison ship to rescue Emilie and get away without alerting the inmates. Snow is your basic cookie-cutter badass, with little back story explained. The only thing you need to know is that Snow is possibly the biggest ass-kicker in town, so calling upon him to rescue the President’s daughter should be nothing but a walk in the park.
Lockout is from rookie directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. Up until this point they’ve only directed a handful of shorts and their lack of experience shows. Lockout is billed as a cheesy action film, but it’s actually a ten minute over-the-top sci-fi action film, mixed with eighty five minutes of characters running around in circles, trying to escape a spaceship.
Mather and St. Leger start the film out on a promising level, with the credits rolling in each time Pearce gets his face punched in, but then the film’s light tone quickly defuses. There’s maybe one or two good action scenes towards the beginning of the film, but the rest is an unwatchable disaster, full of poorly rendered CGI and a story that doesn’t make a lick of sense.
The story is almost always trying to be over-complicated, with unneeded twists and turns thrown in around every corner. I’m assuming this is because Mather and St. Leger realized that they can’t rely on Guy Pearce cracking rude jokes every five minutes for the film to stick with audiences. People demand more out of this kind of cinema, and sometimes amateur directors like Mather and St. Leger can’t deliver.
There’s a good idea behind Lockout, which was thought up by producer Luc Besson, but that’s all that Lockout is. It’s nothing more than a good idea from a producer that has the cash to waste. Hiring rookie directors to attempt to make action sequences blended in with a sort of video game environment isn’t the greatest idea, especially when Tony Scott could have had a field day with the budget and stars.
Guy Pearce is criminally underused as Snow and it saddens me, because he really is the only one trying in the film. He’s a believable badass, but he’s given very little to do.
Why Besson trusted Mather and St. Leger will forever remain a mystery, because the material could have really provided for some entertaining action if put in the right hands of virtually any studio action director on the planet. The tone for the film is all wrong and the action doesn’t come nearly enough, which makes Lockout an exercise of patience and a complete waste of time.
Sony’s 1080p video transfer is dark and not all that colorful, but there’s barely any noticeable flaws from a technical standpoint. I couldn’t find any image banding, shadowing or crushing of colors, which makes this another high quality new release.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track gives the video transfer a run for its money. There’s a lot of room for this track to breathe in the dark and lifeless space setting, which makes for an action-packed track that’s explosive and ear-grabbing. The punches hit hard and the guns even harder, even though there’s much more dialogue than action.
The Blu-Ray disc only features the unrated version of the film, plus the following bonus material:
- Breaking into Lockout (HD)
- A Vision of the Future (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
I had an extremely hard time trying to stay awake while watching Lockout for the first time and that same feeling revisited me during my second viewing. The action-to-dialogue ratio is too uneven. James Mather & Stephen St. Leger have managed to make one action-less “action” film that tries its hardest to work around the high concept and over-the-top dialogue delivery. You might be surprised by just how serious they try making Lockout, because the story actually becomes an excessive distraction at one point.
The Blu-Ray is your basic top-notch quality Sony release, which makes a rental sound much more appealing than a purchase. The unrated cut simply adds in some leftover blood that was taken out of the PG-13 theatrical cut, but it doesn’t improve the film in any way.
Lockout is something you’ll want to wait to watch until it hits cable, even if the Blu-Ray presentation is a shining example of how to properly show off a film in high definition.
Lockout is a poor man's Escape from New York. Aside from Guy Pearce's asshole charms and the occasionally impressive action shootout, Lockout is a dry and action-light rip-off of a dozen better corny B films from the late 80s/early 90s.