Directors: James Mather & Stephen St.Leger
Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare and Vincent Regan
Running Time: 95 minutes
Having been a solid cinematic staple throughout the ’90s with the likes of León, The Fifth Element and Nikita, Luc Besson has spent the last decade producing a slew of action films shot primarily around Europe for mass American consumption. The results have been varying – or just plain awful depending on your tolerance for B-movie schlock. A side-note, I’m all for it. Taken, an updated interpretation of Commando has seen Liam Neeson become the most bankable action star around, while it was The Transporter series that showed Jason Statham had more going than just being a grimacing geezer. He can, in fact, kick things really well.
Lockout, Besson’s latest project – co-written with Irish directors James Mather and Stephen St.Leger – is set in 2079, and sees CIA operative Snow (Pearce) set up and sent to MS One, a supermax – not that kind (although potentially as dangerous the one on Eyre Square on Rag Week) orbiting earth. When the President’s daughter (Grace) visits on a routine aid mission and is kidnapped and held to ransom, it’s up to Snow to get her out. He’s the best there is, but he’s a loose cannon. I wish I made that last part up, alas, that beauty of a line is actually in the trailer below. It’s that kind of movie.
This is a bad film, but nonetheless it is a fun film. This is primarily down to a wonderful tongue-in-cheek performance from Guy Pearce. Given a wise-cracking character that’s part Snake Plisken, part John McClane, Pearce embraces the absurdity of it all and just runs with it, delivering lines like, “Here’s an apple and a shotgun. Don’t talk to strangers; Shoot them,” with shit-eating grin majesty. His co-stars fill their clichéd roles adequately. Grace gets just a little more to do here than her turn in Taken, while Stormare plays the chain-of-command touting secret service chief with aplomb. Rent-a-Gerard-Butler Vincent Regan even makes a nice change as a villain without a dodgy eastern European accent.
Where Lockout falls flat is that it tries to be a bigger film than it really needs to be. A futuristic motorcycle freeway chase is more Road Rash than Transformers, the plot lashes on far too much exposition towards the end, and its attempt at deep space dogfight exposes its budgetary restraints. ‘Less is more’ has never been more apt. Just give us Pearce, his foul mouth, a packet of smokes and we’ll be happy.