Lockout

18 04 2012

Going into the movie theatre, I didn’t expect much from Lockout. From the trailers, it looks like it has all the elements of a traditional action movie. That usually means a predictable plot, boring characters, and lots of explosions.

After watching Lockout, I was pleasantly surprised. While it does have lots of explosions, both the plot and characters are a cut above the average action movie.

Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) is the President’s daughter who plays the damsel in distress. After embarking on a humanitarian mission to an experimental outer space prison, her life is put into danger when the prisoners stage a riot.

Lockout-movie-review

"This is going to sound weird, but I need to stick this into your eye later in the movie"

There’s only one person who can save her, and that’s lead character Snow (Guy Pearce). Snow used to work with the Special Forces before becoming a ‘loose cannon’. He’s a risky asset, but he’s America’s only hope. How many times have we heard that one before?

Emilie’s life is in grave danger. After all, she is trapped in a prison surrounded by 500 angry men who have just been set free.

Oh, and did I mention that the outer space prison causes the men to develop psychosis and dementia?

Clearly, time is of the essence, and Snow fights his way through the prison in an effort to reach Emilie. Finding her is the easiest part: the hard part is escaping.

Lockout’s traditional plot is saved by a strong lead character. Snow is funny, arrogant, and abrasive, but still manages to be likeable. He has a witty one-liner for any situation and never seems to be caught by surprise. By the end of the movie, I realized he was one of the most entertaining action heroes I’ve seen in recent years.

I also liked Lockout’s self-deprecating attitude. Yes, it’s a cookie-cutter action movie in many respects, but it isn’t afraid to poke fun of itself for that.

In one scene, a Secret Service agent sacrifices himself in order to save the president’s daughter. They are stuck in an airtight chamber that is quickly running out of oxygen. After he shoots himself, the oxygen levels in the room jump back up (science doesn’t play a big role in this movie).

Usually when people sacrifice themselves in action movies to save a buddy, it’s meant to be a tear-jerking moment. In that scene, it felt almost comical, and I can’t help but feel that scenes like this were deliberately sarcastic.

This guy has the most terrifying Irish accent I have ever heard

There’s also a car chase that looks so bad that it needs to be seen to be believed. I think Lockout’s special effects crew had used up their entire budget on shots of the massive space station before realizing that they had one more scene to do. Thankfully, the chase is less than 20 seconds long.

If you look closely, there are even a few homages to Star Wars: A New Hope in Lockout. How do you dislike a movie that pays subtle tribute to a classic like that?

Lockout is a light-hearted way to spend an evening. Its lead character walks a fine line between irritating and hilarious, and there are more funny scenes than there are tense ones. While it still fits firmly into the mould of a traditional action movie, Lockout is well aware of that at all times, and it rarely misses an opportunity to make fun of itself.

If you like an action movie with less intensity and more humor, then Lockout is one to see. It’s cheesy action at its finest.

3.5 stars out of 5

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