Lockout is both exactly the kind of action movie you like (violence, humor, a cool hero facing immense odds) and the kind of action movie you want it to be (there’s a “no gun” policy for a reason).
Unfortunately I missed the first few moments of the film due to a miscommunication on the start time, but otherwise the film goes like this: Snow (our hero) is blamed for the death of his government spook friend, as well as being accused of selling US secrets. For this, he’ll get 30 years in suspended animation on M.S. One, the maximum security prison in space. Meanwhile, the president’s daughter, Emilie, is on her way to M.S. One on a humanitarian mission to find out if the prisoners are being treated well, aren’t suffering any ill-effects (this is the prototype station afterall), and if the rumors are true that they are being experimented on to see how humans react to deep space conditions – this, by the way, is the excuse to both have a prison in space and why the daughter is here. In fact, the same deep space exploration company that is financing M.S. One also financed the president’s campaign, so clearly the daughter has dirty hands too – or so it’s implied.
Here’s where I get angry. That “no gun” policy I mentioned before, a moron Secret Service agent decides to ignore it and takes a gun into a room with a prisoner (clearly this guy hasn’t seen Con Air). No guns are allowed in that room for a reason, but this agent thought, “Clearly, the rules don’t apply when I’m on a space station and the protectee is safely behind bullet-proof glass.” Surprise! Prisoner steals gun and gets himself to the control room where he can free everyone else. Riot starts, Secret Service home base freaks out because the First Daughter is in danger, and then they remember, “hey, we’ve got a guy we were about to send there, so let’s send him on a suicide mission! He’ll either save the day or die trying, so win-win!”
I will give Lockout credit for taking a chance with the “space riot” concept, but whichever schmuck said that it’s “Die Hard meets Blade Runner” has obviously never seen Blade Runner. One is a sophisticated tale dealing with the complicity of identity and humanity, while the other is just an excuse to blow things up in space. However, one thing Lockout does extremely well is focus on the relationships between people. Many films like this will focus on the violence as a means to propel the story, whereas here they take the time to help the audience convict power structure and to give several examples of why Snow was the guy for the job. It’s not just because he quips the best or because he was available, rather they give us moments where the audience can see his skill in action, both with weapons and tactics. Most movies function with assumption that because the audience is told that the hero is the best guy for the job that they’ll just go along with it, so it’s nice when a film actually show us how good the hero really is. But Snow is definitively not Rick Deckard and barely Snake Plisskin, though the plot is up his alley. Hell, I actually found Snow to be a less likeable Michael Weston.
As an action flick, it has everything you need – explosions, quips, and a little bit of plot. Don’t expect much and you’ll get a whole lot out of Lockout. Think of it like a 2012 version of Escape from L.A., but nowhere near as good and there’s no Surgeon General to look out for. If you’re in the mood for a action flick with a few too many plots holes, see it on the big screen for $5 or less. Otherwise, I recommend a rental. In fact, just rent it. While you wait for the rental, go find B13 and Unleashed. Better action, better cast, and you won’t walk away missing time off your life.
1.5 out of 5
Action is decent, the concept is interesting, but too many plot holes removed me from my suspension of disbelief. If you insist on seeing this one in theaters, $5 or less, otherwise wait for rental.