Monday, April 23, 2012

“Lockout” – It was just…so…bad (or, how do you say shitty in French?)

As I was thinking of how I wanted to kick off this review, I stumbled across a fact that I would not have guessed if my life depended on it – Lockout is a French film. I know – I did a spit-take as well. Apparently, the French are capable of making crappy science fiction films just like us Americans. The funny thing is the whole film is in English, so the only reason you know it’s French is by someone like me telling you or if you read the names of the directors, producers, and writers. Now, according to the wiki page, Lockout was directed and written by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, with additional writing credit going to Luc Besson. I bring up their names because I want to make sure I destroy the correct people for this piece of merde. This is Mather and St. Leger’s first directing and writing experience (not counting a short-story film in 2004). Besson has been around the block a few times, responsible for The Professional, Taken, and The Transporter – all quality action films. So I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that his credit as writer was probably more of an editorial role.

Lockout was promising for about the first three minutes of the film. Snow (Guy Pearce) is being interrogated by Secret Service agent Scott Langral (Peter Stormare) about the murder of intelligence officer. For every question, Snow has a sarcastic remark, which earns him a punch to the face by another agent. We are quickly shown the supposed crime, in which Snow kills some guys in the room and the dying officer hands him a lighter and a briefcase and tells Snow to keep them safe. Snow is captured after probably the worst bit of CGI I’ve seen since SpongeBob SquarePants and we go back to the interrogation room.

Meanwhile, the President’s daughter, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), is visiting an orbiting space prison (MS-One) in which its prisoners are kept in stasis. Yes, I am still talking about the same movie and, yes, it gets worse. Emilie is at the prison because she believes the prisoners are being used as guinea pigs to test the effects of long-term space exposure on humans. She is given an interview with one of the prisoners, who I like to call bad-guy-with-unnecessary-Scottish-accent-number-one. Right after the warden tells the agents they can’t take guns in the room, one of them takes a gun in the room, a la that dumb DEA agent in Con Air. Bad-guy-one smells the gun (seriously), snatches it from the agent, and kills everyone in the room except Emilie. Scottish-accent-one quickly shoots more people and forces a guard to release the rest of the prisoners, including bad-guy -with-unnecessary-Scottish-accent-number-two, and we now have Con Air in Space. Holy merde.

Meanwhile, Snow is convicted and sentenced to thirty years on MS-One, but since someone with his skills is needed for the prison situation, we now have something that links these two…um…plots(?) together. From this point on, the film becomes a caricature of a caricature of Die Hard.

What made this movie so terrible is not just the fact that the multiple bad plots did not equal one decent plot, but also that there were so many smaller things that were just wrong. The very first thing they tell us is that it’s the year 2079. Why? I don’t know, but this basically negates our ability to believe several things we see in this movie. They want us to believe that in sixty-two years, not only will we have built a massive space prison, but that there is so much other stuff in orbit that Earth has a Low-Earth Orbit Police Department, that we learned how to put people into stasis (basically, cryogenic sleep without the cold part), that the head of the Secret Service is Russian, and that the International Space Station (ISS) is still in orbit, at least until it crashed into said prison (don’t ask).

Not to be too negative, there are some fun questions you can ask throughout the movie to keep yourself entertained. First, why does a prison that keeps its prisoners in stasis need guards? Second, we’re told the prison is privately funded, but wouldn’t the cost of building such a prison bankrupt any company (fifteen countries have chipped in for the ISS at $150 billion)? Third, why doesn’t the motorcycle Snow is riding in the opening act have a front wheel? Fourth, don’t people explosively decompress when exposed to outer space, not instantly freeze? Fifth, why does the leader of the prisoners (Scottie-number-two) keep leaving his psychotic brother (Scottie-number-one) alone with hostages and weapons when he knows number-one will start killing them? Six, why does this movie reenact the climactic Death Star scene from Star Wars when, clearly, this movie is just insulting us at this point?

The one thing that keeps this movie from being a total merde-fest is that the actors practically kill themselves trying to heft this garbage on their backs. Guy Pearce, especially, deserves a medal for bulking up for the part and delivering every line with the same amount of sarcasm until the credits role. Pearce is one of my favorite actors, but I think this was one sword he didn’t need to fall on. And the two stories never do really merge, instead lurching their way toward a conclusion that we stopped caring about long before we realized that, yes, Maggie Grace was that girl from season one of Lost. All we can hope for is that this movie does so horribly at the box office that Mather and St. Leger’s careers are pushed out the proverbial airlock.

Rating: Ask for all of your money back. And, yes, shit in French is Lockout.


  1. Man, I wish I would have read this review before I bought the movie, sight unseen! I was desperate for some scifi that night, and happen to be a fan of Guy Pierce. Wish I could ask for my $20 back from Walmart!

  2. While I can't totally disagree with your opinion on the movie, I do have issues with your 'un-necessary-Scottish-accent' argument. I'm not sure if you've heard but there are actually Scottish people in the world, and they will most probably still be around in the future. Are you suggesting that no other accents are necessary other than the usual non-specific, non-regional American-ish?