Name an action movie cliché and odds are you’ll find it in this schlocky Guy Pearce romp.
There’s a scene fairly late in trashy dystopian thriller Lockout that neatly encapsulates its blithely daft tenor. Brash convict Snow (Guy Pearce) and sassy damsel in distress Emilie (Maggie Grace) leap from an exploding spaceship and hurtle – hand-in-hand – through the Earth’s orbit, miraculously at no point catching fire or asphyxiating from the absence of oxygen.
Much like the jokes, dialogue, action set pieces and everything else in this big, dumb, friendly Labrador-of-a film, they land with a good deal more success than anybody could reasonably have expected.
Directed by first-timers James Mather and Stephen St Leger from a script they developed with Luc Besson, Lockout takes place in a future where high-risk convicts are sent into space and put into hypersleep to serve their sentences. When the inmates are unexpectedly awoken, they stage a violent revolt and take visiting do-gooder Emilie hostage.
Enter Pearce’s Snow, a wisecracking anti-hero type who’s been wrongfully accused of espionage and is offered his freedom in exchange for rescuing Emilie, who also happens to be the president’s daughter.
If you’re thinking this sounds an awful lot like that long-lost remake of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, you’re not far off, but being derivative is almost irrelevant to a film so determinedly, cheerfully mindless. Name an action movie cliché and odds are you’ll find it here, from the overblown anti-gravity chase sequence to the obligatory mouth-to-mouth scene between our guy and gal.
It’s impossible to overstate just how much Pearce is the very best thing about Lockout. Not an actor known for playing the traditional leading man, his sheer charisma and subtly cerebral presence keeps the cocky, quippy Snow from becoming the grating clown he could have been.
He and Grace even manage to wrest a spark or two out of the damp wood that comprises their would-be screwball banter, although it’s a pity her character is written as so utterly, regressively in need of saving at every turn.
Derivative premise, but the combo of Besson and Pearce comes with intrigue.
Pearce’s compelling charm does a lot to elevate dopey scripting and risible plotting.
Shallow, silly yet infectiously good-natured, this is as guiltily pleasurable as dystopia gets.