Luc Besson sat down one day and came up with an original idea: The President's daughter is going to be taken hostage by a bunch of prisoners in a futuristic space prison. And then the President is going to send in one lone man, a crude, unlikable guy who cares about no one but himself, but who can kick some major convict ass. Lockout is "based upon an original idea by Luc Besson", but when did an original idea mean taking Escape from New York, making it stupid and changing the location to space?
Lockout stars Guy Pearce and is about Guy Pearce acting like a jackass and making a bunch of wisecracks. At the President. At the President's daughter. At the bad guys. At everyone who hates him, which is everyone.
It's also about a space station and nearly 500 angry prisoners with nowhere to go.
Lockout is an action movie, but it might actually be a comedy. Hard to tell. Guy Pearce is funny, which is intentional, but the rest of the movie is funny, too, which isn't intentional. Guy Pearce has some great lines in the movie; everyone else, especially Maggie Grace, is cringe-inducing. At least she's pretty to look at. Until Guy Pearce pulls a cruel trick on the audience and gives her a short-haired black wig to make her look like the prettiest male convict a hundred miles above the Earth's surface.
The screenplay embraces absurdity, even when the screenwriters didn't intend it. Guy Pearce really does have some great one-liners, but most of the dialogue had the audience laughing out loud, and not in the good way. More problematic is that the movie is full of ridiculous clichés, which makes the "original idea" claim all the more suspicious. At one stage, the President, facing a tough decision, is relieved of his powers. A coup? No. Luc Besson and co-writers/directors Stephen St. Leger and James Mather must have seen something similar in another movie and decided to add that bit in, even though the scene has no bearing on the rest of the movie, nor makes any sense. Of course, the space prison starts to fall out of orbit at one point, because it needs to be constantly "maintained". Apparently, if someone falls asleep on the job, the whole trillion-dollar project could plunge into the planet. Again, everyone was laughing, and not in a good way.
Lockout is full of completely stupid stuff like this. We're pretty sure Besson and his cheap filmmakers intended for Lockout to be action-packed and suspenseful. They failed in that regard, but at least they made a good comedy.
Speaking of cheap, FilmDistrict appears to have spent more money on the visual effects for their logo than what passed as final product here. While some of the space effects are good enough for a cheap, C-grade sci-fi thriller, the car chase sequence in the beginning is laughably bad. Like, 1990's video game bad. The visuals in 1981's Escape from New York were better, and it was shot on a shoestring budget. A simple rule: if you can't do it right, don't do it at all. The scene wasn't even important in the scheme of things.
On the positive side, that was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. People were literally rolling in their seats.
Even worse than the visual effects is the editing, which appears to have chopped large segments of the film for the sake of maintaining its neck-breaking pace. The editing is especially glaring early on as the things jump from Point A to Point B to Point E and then Point W to get Pearce to the station as quickly as possible. The movie only marginally makes sense half the time as a result.
Lockout is a ludicrously bad movie in so many ways, but it's thankfully so bad it's good. The movie does have its entertaining moments and Guy Pearce gives it his all, but an utterly unoriginal screenplay coupled with poor execution and terrible editing will cause your brain to freeze faster than if you were jettisoned into the cold of space. So much for an original idea.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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