Review of Lockout


Movie Review: "Lockout" --

Rating: PG-13
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: April 13, 2012
Directed by: James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Genre: Thriller/Action/Sci-Fi
Stars: 3 out of 5

Sometimes a film is nothing more than it pretends to be-pure entertainment. "Lockout" is one of those movies. Released just before the summer blockbuster rush, the film is a very lively action movie that never pretends to be anything else. For many people, especially some critics, this may present a problem for the film. However, audiences may just love the film and applaud it for being so transparent.

Directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger worked with the producer of "Fifth Element" and "La Femme Nikita," Luc Besson, to create a story about a prison rescue in outer space. The prison is already in an uproar. Things get even worse when a humanitarian mission comes to the prison installation with a very famous face. It's the President's daughter Emily, played by actress Maggie Grace. Events at the prison escalate until the mission is trapped and in grave danger. The President (Peter Hudson) enlists the aid of the most knowledgeable person he knows. Agent Snow (Guy Pierce) is a one-man killing machine. He is an expert in weaponry, combat and espionage, all of the areas needed to break into a prison under siege and get out safely. He is the right person to send in after the President's daughter.

The problem is that Agent Snow is in some hot water of his own. He is accused of treason, selling secrets against his country. The agency he works for has reason to believe that Snow has information they need. Snow isn't giving an inch. He is innocent and has nothing to share. That didn't stop the government from convicting Snow as a spy and sentencing him to lifetime imprisonment in the depths of the federal prison system. After all these, why would anyone do a favor for his country? Snow seems to do so out of convenience. He is a man of integrity after all. It is a bit predictable, but that never draws away from the action that follows.

"Lockout" harkens back to John Carpenter's similar thrillers "Escape from New York" released in 1981 and "Escape from L.A." released in 1996. There are insane bad guys played by Joseph Gilgun (as a tattoo and glass-eyed convict) and Vincent Regan. The movie also has plenty of fight scenes and daring escapes. The ultimate exit at the end is pretty big. Agent Snow is the one man to make an escape from a seemingly inescapable prison full of maniacs. In this role, Guy Pierce does conjure memories of Kurt Russell as Snake from the "Escape" movie. Like Carpenter's films decades ago, "Lockout" offers an audience-mindless entertainment in the form of a lively action film. It does indeed draw on some basic and classic elements. However, this does not take away from the entertainment. It shouldn't for a few very important reasons.

Many filmgoers want to see a movie that takes them away for a few hours at a time. They want something that draws the mind in and locks it into the story until the end. Some major explosions, tight situations and narrow escapes serve to keep the interest. Snarky one-liners fuse a little humor into the movie to save it from complete depression. The pretty damsel in distress gives the hero a reason to show off those moves that we have seen but in a different context. The insane villains offer something to keep the audiences on the edge at key points throughout the film as well. The result of this entire production is taking the audience away temporarily, like mindless entertainment does. While some people may downgrade this film for its predictability, audiences will flock to it in theaters because they know what to expect. The formula works because it fills a need. Once that need is filled, there is no reason for further analysis and character study.

So what is wrong with a film entertaining for the sake of entertaining? Nothing. Sure, the thoughtful film with evolving characters also has its place in cinema today. However, films like "Lockout" are necessary to provide everyone with that one guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment or 90 minutes of pleasure that many people seek when hitting the theaters. This sci-fi tale that has the element of damsel in distress, one-man army, homicidal maniacs and narrow escapes is just what audiences need this summer to enjoy themselves for just a moment.

"Lockout" is science fiction, action and thrills at their best.

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