In “Lockout,” we have a prison-escape film that features an actor in search of literal escape – from this film.
As fun and wisecracky as Guy Pearce gets, as a former CIA agent named Snow, his eyes betray a “get me out of this POS” franticness that’s impossible to miss.
Clunky, prefabricated and devoid of any sort of tension, “Lockout” is a Luc Besson production, minus Besson’s uncanny knack for propulsive, tastily assembled action-fantasy. This seems more like a Luc Besson concept (“A disgraced government agent must rescue the president’s daughter from a maximum security prison – in OUTER SPACE!”) that was fleshed out by a high-school creative-writing class.
It’s all there in that sentence: the disgraced government agent facing prison, the crisis on the prison orbiting Earth, the president’s daughter. Connect the dots.
But when those dots are joined, what you see is a crude, listless and two-dimensional prison-escape tale that squanders its potential tension and spends far too much time on the extraneous. It’s all about that relationship between Snow and Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the president’s do-gooder daughter, who’s on a mission to investigate whether this new prison (which drugs its prisoners into a potentially psychosis-inducing coma) is violating human rights. Hey – it’s a prison. In outer space.
Close calls, beat-downs, moments of jeopardy – these are all standard items on the checklist for a movie of this sort. But with the exception of the violence and some videogame-like action, “Lockout” is a massive snooze, with all the suspense of air leaking from a balloon. Sleeping through it is not just an option – it’s a necessity.