out of Five
Running time: 96
Trashily entertaining space prison flick that delivers some pleasingly old school thrills, thanks to a witty script, pacey direction and an enjoyable central performance from Guy Pearce.
What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by James Mather and Stephen St Leger (with assistance from Luc Besson in the screenplay), Lockout is set in 2079 and stars Guy Pearce as ex-CIA Agent Snow, who's wrongly convicted of espionage against the United States and is sent to outer-space prison MS-One. However, when the President's daughter (Maggie Grace as Emilie) is taken hostage by a group of violent inmates during a prison visit, Snow is offered his freedom if he can rescue her and save the day.
Guy Pearce is great fun as Snow (the reveal of his first name forms one of several enjoyable running jokes), maintaining a wise-cracks-per-minute rate that would make Bruce Willis proud. He also has enjoyable bickering chemistry with Grace (who's not the world's greatest actress but acquits herself nicely here) and there's terrific twitchy support from This Is England's Joseph Gilgun as a dangerously unhinged inmate. Vincent Regan makes a solid adversary as the outbreak's ring-leader and Lennie James and Peter Stormare are both good value as the CIA agents co-ordinating the rescue from an orbiting space station.
Aside from delivering a steady stream of great lines, the script has a pleasingly old-school feel to it (borrowing heavily from obvious influences Die Hard and Escape From New York) and there are several nice touches, such as a particularly useful explosive device and a number of great throwaway jokes, such as Snow offering Emilie an apple and holding up a silver sachet with an apple on it. In addition, Mather and St Leger maintain a decent pace throughout and the fight scenes are nicely handled.
The only problem with the film is that the special effects are something of a mixed bag: in particular, a bike-chase at the beginning, which looks like a rejected video game scene and should probably have been dropped, though the space station effects aren't actually that bad. Similarly, the ending slightly fumbles a promising race-against-time element and cops out of the traditional hero versus villain face-off in favour of something else that doesn't quite work.
With a witty script and pacey direction, Lockout is a enjoyable space prison flick that delivers plenty of pulpy thrills and features a terrific performance from Guy Pearce. Worth seeing.