Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lockout (Film Review)




Now, this is how you make a popcorn action film. No attempts at overly serious drama, no illusions as to having some major social message, no delusions on the part of its makers in thinking it’s a masterpiece – Lockout is simply a dumb, enjoyable ride from beginning to end. Everyone involved clearly knew what they were making was insane and created purely for the fun of it when they heard the description: “One man army takes on army of cryogenically frozen psychopaths in a space prison facility to rescue the president’s daughter”.

Honestly this feels like it was supposed to be a remake of a much older film. It’s at least as cheesy as something from the early to mid-80s, on par with Commando at times, and the very premise feels so old and clich├ęd that even after seeing it I’m having trouble believing it was an original pitch. Probably the only reason it did get funded was because Luc Besson was head writer on the project, so perhaps someone at Open Road Films thought they would end up with the next Fifth Element. Oddly enough you can see threads of that film’s DNA present in Lockout. Between Guy Pearce’s wisecracking disgraced government agent believed to have betrayed the USA, Lennie James as a former boss character trying to convince him to take on the mission and Maggie Grace playing a girl who has to be protected but visibly toughens up as events progress – it’s easy to draw parallels between the two.

There is only one thing really worth criticising about the film it’s the amount of money which went into it. With an even cheaper budget than you’d find in the Transporter films there are some very clear limitations placed upon Lockout, with a few of the more elaborate CGI’d scenes looking like they’ve been rendered using a last generation gaming console. When there’s not much going on or they can use explosions to hide any diminished visual quality it looks perfectly fine. It’s just that when the film’s get to its bigger set pieces it feel jarring due to the visible difference in quality between the two.

Along with the CGI, the budget did clearly cause problems for some of the film’s events. For one thing it didn’t seem to have the money available for any major gun battles or a climactic brawl between the protagonist and the film’s villains. While this did mean the film had to be creative and think up ways to keep it interesting without relying purely upon the action, not seeing a fight between Guy Pearce and the Scottish Joker as played by Joseph Gilgun was definitely a let-down.

All in all Lockout really is what Battleship should have been - Self-aware and utterly ludicrous. Everything it lacks in true cinematic quality is easily made up for by its fun factor, so give this one a look.

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Lockout and all related characters and media are owned by Open Road Films.

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