Copy cat plot slows down “Lockout”

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By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer

If you want to know the plot of the new Luc Besson-produced action movie “Lockout,” put yourself in a late 80s, early 90s mindset and imagine movies like “Die Hard,” “Escape from New York” and “Blade Runner” all mashed together.

Directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, “Lockout,” isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. It’s kind of like a cult classic in the making. The movie begins in 2079 Washington D.C. with Snow (Guy Pearce), a former CIA agent disgraced and wrongly convicted of killing a friend and fellow CIA agent. Before he’s sent to M.S. One, a maximum security prison orbiting in space, he’s asked to rescue the president’s daughter Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), who happens to be at the same prison on a good will mission that’s been taken over by the mentally unstable prisoners.

Snow’s trying to prove his innocence and that’s really the only reason he takes on the mission, because his partner in the failed mission is now a prisoner at M.S. One.

The majority of “Lockout,” requires a big leap of faith on the part of the viewer. Anyone who knows anything about Luc Besson knows calm and quiet isn’t really his style. From the get go, “Lockout” is big, brash, sarcastic and fun.

Most of that fun is thanks to Pearce as Snow. The role of a sarcastic, jaded law enforcement agent is one that’s pretty much done to death, but Pearce is such a talented and underrated actor that you’re willing to accept it. It’s an odd transition for Pearce, who’s better known for searing dramas like “L.A. Confidential” or “Mildred Pierce.” But it’s obvious he’s having so much fun with the part of Snow that the transition is actually pretty smooth.  

As I’ve said, the movie isn’t particularly good. It’s frequently silly, and its downfall ultimately comes from what’s good about it. “Lockout” is made out of parts from movies that seemed cutting edge in the 80s and 90s, but instead of being good it just reminds you of this movie’s shortcomings.

But when “Lockout” does work, it works really well. It works the best when it doesn’t try too hard. When it’s simply a mindless action movie full of snark, it’s really fun. Mather and Leger clearly had a good time plotting out scenes.

By the end you aren’t left with that really great charged up feeling you get from watching those older action movies. Sure it’s fun and ultimately harmless, which is something you ordinarily want from a movie like that, but it’s something that just doesn’t play well with this movie. It’s all talk and just not a lot of substance.

Perhaps unintentionally, Emilie describes the entire movie best when talking to Snow. “What are you all mouth no trousers?” “I’m a lot of trouser okay?” Snow replies. I get the feeling that’s exactly what the directors would say.

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