Lockout (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Lockout (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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"What ever happened to Guy Pearce?" You hear this a lot I've found. I think Guy Pearce, upon hearing this query, would quietly smile. Guy Pearce does what he wants to do, and probably doesn't give a fuck. Guy Pearce, I'd wager, didn't want to be in this movie, or was at least allowed to behave however he wanted. Perhaps he lost a bet.

His character here, the roguishly named Snow, is self interested and flippant past any tangible point. The audience and the film are in the middle of Act 2, and Snow still hasn't started taking Act 1 seriously. Normally, in a film about a CIA Agent framed for a crime he didn't commit, the CIA agent would seem to, I don't know, be mildly concerned about it. Snow doesn't give a fuck.

However, there's a plot (and what a plot) that's going to make Snow jump through a bunch of hoops because, I sincerely suspect, if a plot hadn't wandered along, we would just have a lot of scenes of Guy Pearce smoking cigarettes and looking mildly displeased. There's nothing wrong with this-- in fact, it may still have been an improvement over what we ended up with--but the film has so many hoops to make Snow jump through that the experience seem like a chore.

This seems mildly suggestive, which is far more suggestive than just about anything else in the film.

Said plot involves a prison in outer space where the President's daughter has been kidnapped and Guy Pearce has to be a bad enough dude to rescue her. He's also searching for some information that will exonerate him from his crime that's conveniently been placed in said space prison in a remarkably short amount of time.

There's a lot of subtextual stuff you can read into the film, though its view of the future is unfortunately fleeting between long, dull stretches of action sequences. The 2079 of the film seems to be awash in highways. The government is become remarkably more fascist, as police fire freely into crowds, jury trials are implied to be a thing of the past, and the Oval Office is now a bunker underground.

The streets are littered with small corner stands indicating a disparity in wealth, while big corporations remain, of course, a problem. I would like to see a multinational corporation portrayed nicely in a film sometime, though that may stretch the imagination past its breaking point. In any case, the businesses here seem to be running experiments on the prisoners they're supposed to be protecting.

The film's point is that privatized prisons may lead to harmful ethical breaches, which isn't really anything new. In fact, given how messed up prisons currently are in the United States, it's a letdown that the only moral the film wants you to draw is something that most anyone who's even read the slightest bit about corporation-run prisons would know already walking in the doors.

A victim of the system and/or crazy. The film, sadly, doesn't care which.

There's so much I wish the film had done with it's goofy space prison, which uses suspended animation to create the perfect place to incarcerate criminals. "Zero sexual assaults" one guard notes, which is an important line but unexplored. The criminals in the film are rendered into dangerous lunatics, even moreso by the effects of the suspended animation, making them hardly sympathetic even after evidence of them being experimented on is revealed.

It also would have been a bit more interesting if the space prison had touched on our society's current rabid desire to incarcerate anyone with a skin color darker than peach. Instead, the film is mostly filled with its idea as to who constitutes the worst of the worst, whom are apparently all white and Irish.

The two lead villains are brothers; one is methodical, the other crazy. Neither are very interesting, like sketches waiting to be filled in, and seem to take turns wandering off.  The crazy one has a fascination with wanting to rape the President's daughter, which is wisely played to be quite uncomfortable. The methodical one doesn't do much but look annoyed about most everything; if Snow doesn't give a fuck, methodical killer gives every fuck. All the fucks he can manage, at least.

It's kind of sad, really.

Lockout has its moments of fun as these vague globs of menace play off each other, but mostly because, as previously mentioned, Guy Pearce doesn't give a fuck, and that's almost a relief given how much the rest of the movie seems to trod along, wallpapering over plot points from only a few minutes earlier. Any measure of coherency is best to be ignored, and the action scenes, what most people probably paid their money for, are unremarkable and often incomprehensible.

Also, strong female character? Oh no, not so much.

I did like Peter Stormare in this, whose dialogue was unintelligible through whatever accent he was trying out, and I really enjoyed the opening credits, which cleverly used Guy Pearce getting punched in the face as a transition between title cards.

And, you know what? Even after getting punched in the face, after being thrown down elevator shafts, after having fake-looking zero-g brawls, and after making blowjob jokes to President's daughter, it's undeniable that Guy Pearce really, really didn't give a fuck.

Neither did I, Guy Pearce. Neither did I.

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Posted by Danny

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  1. I’d had high hopes for this one, but clearly it’s pretty run of the mill. But I do love a good prison movie, so I’m probably going to end up watching it anyway. Thanks for the review.

    • Sure. Like I said, it starts strong, but it gets dull pretty quick. No exploding helicopters from what I remember, but I hope you manage to enjoy it either way!

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