The inherently mysterious nature of space exploration and expedition continues to thrill even modern audiences. It’s been used a hundred times in too many ways to count, and despite the fact that we are becoming a society in which space travel isn’t completely unimaginable from a practical perspective, it really does manage to get me intrigued every time.
The possibility of a prison in space where inmates are cryogenically frozen (or something like that) accounts for the fun factor in the new film Lockout from the mind of Luc Besson (Taken, Transporter), and starring Guy Pearce doing his best to embody Robert Downey Jr.’s witty carelessness combined with Bruce Willis’s physical prowess.
Pearce plays Snow, a man wrongly convicted of murder. He chain smokes and has tattoos, which helps him fit right in with the inmates of MS-1, the prison floating high above the earth that houses the world’s most dangerous criminals.
Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) is the president’s daughter who acts more like the First Lady, playing concerned missionary by visiting the space prison to investigate how the prisoners are being treated. As it turns out, being put under and locked in a coffin-like contraption causes dementia and paranoia in many of the prisoners, and her conversation with one of the inmates by the name of Hydell (Joseph Gilgun) ends in disaster. The crazed Irishman, with a face that nightmares are made of, releases his sleeping compadres and takes the entire space station hostage. Naturally, the mission to save the First Daughter and keep the psychotic prisoners at bay is left in the capable hands of John McClane --I mean Snow.
Normally the villain, Pearce is exceptionally watchable as the badass who gets punched down, but who doles out the punches even harder. He does the nonchalant act pretty well, so hopefully he’ll do it more often. We saw Grace in Taken with a similar role as the damsel in distress, but at least now she is fighting back. However, the real scene-stealer is Gilgun, whose callous villain has the integrity of Heath Ledger’s Joker, but doesn’t require the face paint.
This film has its moments, like most works of sci-fi, that leave the audience giggling in disbelief. And by no means is this bringing anything revolutionary to the table in regards to both plot and special effects. But, for what it aims to be, Lockout is a fun action movie worth, if not a movie ticket, at least a Redbox rental someday.
Lockout releases April 13.