Going in to Lockout, I was honestly expecting a turd fest to some degree. I’d heard mostly negative things about it: It’s dumb, it’s obviously low-budget, etc. Well, it is both of those things, but they’re part of its charm. The difference between this and something I usually bag on is the film’s matter-of-fact nature and the cast. The film doesn't pretend to be something it's not, and even though the story is as straight as an arrow (for the most part), a solid cast and a director not getting in the way helps a lot. There’s nothing quite like a dumb, fun action movie.
The story centers around Snow (Guy Pierce), some kind of Special Forces dude who’s in a lot of trouble. He’s obviously being framed for a murder that has to do with government secrets or something. It doesn’t really matter what he’s being set up for. Someone is pulling the strings, and he’s being hanged because of it. Meanwhile, the president’s daughter is being held on an orbiting penal station as a hostage for the newly-escaped prisoners. Snow’s only way out of his predicament is to sneak into the station, rescue the president’s daughter, and prove his innocence (which coincidentally has to do with an inmate aboard the station). Of course, there has to be an asshole Secret Service agent always on his case or this wouldn’t be a true frame job. Luckily, that character is played by the awesome Peter Stormare, who will forever in my mind be the gross eyeball surgeon from Minority Report and the guy from the weird German car commercials. The bulk of the film takes place on the station, and besides the punching and whatnot, a lot of the engaging bits are due to Pierce being a near-relentless wiseass.
Like it or not, you'll see a lot of this face.
Maggie Grace was one of my favorite things about this movie. Usually, the girl is just there for eye candy and/or as a means of moving the plot forward. Again, that’s the case here, but she really sold the character. She played the president’s daughter with unusual balance, at least in my eyes. Typically, you’ll see either a brain-dead ditz or a woman who’s written extremely poorly in the opposite direction to compensate for the stereotype. She seemed more like an intelligent person who’s never been in this kind of situation before. Guy Pierce was also pretty bad ass, and even though I won’t disagree that he’s pulling the ol’ gruff, joke-cracking hero who seems like a dick, but you know he’ll get the job done routine, he does it with such abandon that I felt compelled to just let it gloriously wash over me. Case-in-point, early on, while being interrogated (punched repeatedly in the face) and asked who his informant is, his only reply is, “His name’s Fuck You. He’s Asian.” You’ll get various mileage out of his comebacks and one-liners, but for the most part, they’re funny and keep the mood light.
Sexiest bloody bullet wound I've seen in at least the past 4 months.
It’s obviously a low-budget film, and the motorcycle chase toward the beginning has some of the worst effects I’ve seen this decade. Aside from that anomaly, the visuals are actually pretty good, even though they’re not the centerpiece. It’s really all about Guy Pierce running around, trading barbs with Maggie Grace and getting out of close calls. The bad guys are suitably quirky and menacing, and although they don’t have a leader with quite the presence as, say, Hans Gruber, he does a decent job. The relationship between the leader and his second-in-command feels forced, but not enough to significantly detract from the experience. If you don’t go in expecting the year’s best sci-fi/action flick but rather a well-done, dumb action movie, you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more than you thought you would.