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7.25 out of 10
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8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
Thor
8.25 out of 10

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lockout

Not Necessarily A Life Sentence

Rated: PG-13  Some sexual references, intense sequences of action, language and intense sequences of violence
Release Date: April 13, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins

Director: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Writers:  James Mather, Stephen St. Leger, Luc Besson
Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Peter Stormare, Peter Hudson, Tim Plester


SYNOPSIS: An ex-CIA operative is wrongfully accused of killing another agent, but is offered his freedom if he can rescue the President's daughter from the midst of a violent takeover by inmates in an orbiting super maximum prison.

REVIEW: Writer and directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, known for various short films including Prey Alone, take an original story idea from action writer/director Luc Besson. Known for films including Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, Besson has written screenplays or treatments for others to great effect, most notably Liam Neeson's Taken and Jason Statham's Transporter franchise. Can his original idea, concept, and screenplay build the same adrenaline rush as his earlier work under the direction of Mather and St. Leger?
Ex-CIA operative Snow (Guy Pearce, Seeking Justice) assists in an operation where he was serving as a back-up to an old agent friend. When the mission goes south, Snow is arrested for murder and summarily sentenced to a 'pilot program' super maximum prison set high in earth's orbit. When President Warnock's (Peter Hudson, Hitman) daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace, Taken) and prison staff are taken hostage by an inmate Emilie was interviewing, Snow is offered the opportunity to gain his freedom if he is makes it aboard the prison space station, finds Emilie alive and well, and gets her out of harm's way. Standing in Snow's way are self-righteous CIA supervisor Langral (Peter Stomare, Premonition), a vicious, tattooed, unpredictable inmate named Hydell (Joseph Gilgun, Screwed), and a formidable inmate leader named Alex (Vincent Regan, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance). His only allies are his partner Mace (Tim Plester, Kick-Ass) and a sympathetic CIA agent named Shaw (Lennie James, The Next Three Days).

Lockout covered a lot of ground as the maximum security prison drifts in high orbit above the earth. With closed and confined spaces of the space station itself, the snarky Snow is a pumped-up version of Bruce Willis' John McClane from Die Hard. Add in the lone good guy Snow versus criminals in space and you have a nod of the hat to Sean Connery's 1981 Outland. Look at a member of the First Family in a tight situation in a thug-infested chaotic locale with only one man available with the brawn, brains, and motivation to get the mission done, and you have Kurt Russell's Snake Plissken from Escape from New York. Moving the action to an orbiting space prison allows for plenty of room to move around, with the vacuum of space allowing for limited escape options.

Guy Pearce has always been a favorite of mine, since Chris Nolan's unforgettable Memento and Curtis Hanson's noir L.A. Confidential. In Lockout, Pearce adds mounds of muscles to his normally trim frame in order to carry the weight of this high-drifting action adventure movie on his shoulders. With scathing and juvenile retorts to all comers, Pearce's Snow manages to illicit punches to the face by his allies and enemies while growing smiles and laughs from the audience. Playing worthy adversary Alex, Vincent Regan looks like a bearded looming teddy bear. But put a plan in his head and a gun in his hand changes his quiet intelligence with quiet and efficient brutality. Maggie Smith's Emilie holds her own against both men, standing tall and defiant when she needs to. Rounding out the most notable characters, Joseph Gilgun's mohawked tattooed Hydell is violently smitten with Emilie and the sound of his own guns firing.

M.S. One, the maximum security space prison, is a great set piece. From dealing with prisoners awoken from an enforced stasis sleep fighting in the general population section, to nitrogen rich hiding spaces, to multiple levels of ductwork, rooms and crawl spaces, the station provides miles of variety. The CGI of the exteriors is lush with gray monotones, bombarded with shadows and back lit sunlight. The special effects are not Avatar caliber, but they are dutiful and consistent throughout.

Lockout lets you in with a typical action hero performance by Pearce, the over-the-top combination of criminals Hydell and Alex. Poorly timed HALOs aside, the story rides high even as the entire prison threatens to decay out of orbit. 
For simple popcorn entertainment, Lockout may be the film you see in the big house called your local theater.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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