(2012)2Jeremy WheelerIt doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out the key to a Luc Besson premise -- team one gruff-talkin' hero with a sassy female love interest, and all you need to do is change the surroundings. With Lockout, Besson's original story idea reshapes his time-honored setup into an Escape From New York knockoff, only changing the setting to outer space and beating John Carpenter's rumored "Escape From Space" sequel idea to the punch. None of this warrants too much ill will, mind you, since the French movie baron's Europa Corp. is known for consistently producing semi-decent flicks for open-armed genre audiences -- aping beloved films while sticking to well-worn shtick is within the realm of B-movie acceptability. As it so happens, Lockout has less in common with B-movie theatrical films than with straight-to-video sci-fi.
There's a lot that's "almost" with Lockout: Guy Pearce's character Snow -- a wrongly incarcerated man sent to a prison colony in space to save the president's daughter (Maggie Grace) -- is a wiseass whose joke-a-minute lines fall flat more than they hit. Pearce is game to sell each quip, which adds a bit of fun to the proceedings, yet there's no denying the lameness of the forced banter. Effects-wise, the film is just a mess, with decent visuals positioned right next to shockingly bad work that makes you wonder if the production had anyone with half a brain signing off on the finished product. In the directing department, co-helmers James Mather and Stephen Saint Leger keep things moving at a brisk rate, even if the two editors (Eamonn Power and Camille Delamarre) unfortunately go the frantic route with the action scenes.
There's more to discuss, such as Joe Gilgun's indecipherable dialogue as the prison nutcase Hydell or the obvious editing that was done to temper the violence for a PG-13 rating, yet one can only knock this flick so much. For lovers of junk cinema, all of Lockout's downsides can easily add up to a silly viewing experience if seen with like-minded pals. That's not to say the film is good -- many will walk away thoroughly disappointed, but so it goes. One thing is for sure: Luc Besson will live to produce more films in his particular mold…and odds are pretty good that most of them will be a lot better than Lockout.