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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 7/17/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/22/2012
Years ago, when asked for an idea for one of the Halloween sequels, John Carpenter, the director of the original classic, suggested shooting Michael Myers into space, as this would be the only way to deal with someone who was seemingly indestructible. (It's interesting that the Friday the 13th franchise did this exact thing several years later with Jason X.) If I remember correctly, Carpenter later stated that he was joking with this concept, but clearly, someone kept that in the back of their mind and decided to take another one of Carpenter's films to the stars, and thus we have Lockout.
Taking place in the year 2079, Lockout opens by introducing us to Snow (Guy Pearce), a former CIA agent who has been apprehended following a job which went sour. Snow has been accused of murdering a fellow agent, and despite the help of Harry (Lennie James), Langral (Peter Stormare) feels that Snow is guilty and arranges for him to be incarcerated. Instead of going to regular prisons, violent offenders are sent to M.S. One, a maximum security space station which orbits the Earth. Meanwhile, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the daughter of the President is visiting M.S. One in order to check on humanitarian conditions. While interviewing Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), the prisoner gets loose and frees all of the other inmates. The inmates allow fellow convict Alex (Vincent Regan) to take over and a hostage situation ensues. Harry and Langral decide that Snow should infiltrate the prison and save Emilie. He accepts the mission, knowing that the one man who can prove his innocence is on board M.S. One.
I really don't enjoy accusing anyone of ripping-off someone else's work, but if you can't see the resemblance between Lockout and John Carpenter's Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., then you need to visit your local vision center. Lockout and Carpenter's films deal with experienced government agents who are about to be sent to a unique prison when they are called upon by their superiors for a rescue operation. Of course, in Escape from New York, it was the President who Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) needed to rescue, while it was the President's daughter (Hmmm...) in Escape from L.A.. In both of Carpenter's films, the inmates run the prison and Snake is essentially on his own to navigate the dangerous territory. Snow faces the same situation on M.S. One. In Lockout, Snow has a finite amount of time to complete the rescue and he wears an electronic map on his wrist. Snake wore his timer on his wrist and had to carry his map, but that's still similar. Co-Writers/Co-Directors James Mather and Stephen Saint Leger have a lot of explaining to do, as does Produce Luc Besson who is credited with the story idea. Making matters worse, Carpenter has stated in interviews that he's thought about a third film in his series which would be called Escape from Earth and it's easy to assume that space travel would be involved.
If you can look past this, Lockout is a fairly competent action film, so it's a shame that those involved couldn't create a more original story. Guy Pearce (who, let's face it, is slumming it here) appears to be having a great time playing a character who simply runs with the whole anti-hero thing. Snow is apathetic and often mean towards everyone and he only takes the mission in the interest of saving his own hide. As essayed by Pearce, Snow is a man-of-action, but he's a very laid-back man-of-action and one gets the feeling that he's doing just enough to get the job done. He's the kind of character who appalls us with his actions, while intriguing us with his decidedly unique view on life and other people. The action scenes are well-done and the movie has a fairly good pace. The finale is just silly enough to enthrall us while testing our suspension of disbelief.
However, Lockout displays some problems as well. First and foremost, someone decided that the two main villains, Alex and Hydell, should be portrayed by Scottish actors who have very thick accents and they are very difficult to understand at times. I'm glad that I saw this at home where I could activate the subtitles. Speaking of the villains, they represent one of the other big problems with the film. There's nothing original about the bad guys here, as they look like the typical The Road Warrior rejects. Things really get stereotypical with Alex and Hydell, as the former is the level-headed smart one (who is still brutal), while the latter is the crazy, trigger-happy one. The film's nadir actually comes early in the movie when we are treated to the worst automotive CGI since Kiss the Girls.
The idea of a crazy action film starring Guy Pearce certainly got my attention, but Lockout does too many things to shoot itself in the foot. While the action is handled well and Pearce creates an appealing character, the lack of originality really hurts the movie. Although, I must admit that I wish that the movie had been a hit so that Snow's t-shirt would have appeared in stores.
Lockout ignores a lot of laws of science on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing little grain and no defects from the source materials. The picture is somewhat dark at times, but the colors look fine, most notably the inmates' orange jumpsuits. The picture is stable, showing little artifacting. It rarely goes soft and the level of detail is good for a DVD. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action scenes sound great with surround sound and subwoofer effects which draw us into the proceedings. These effects are nicely detailed, but they never overwhelm the dialogue. The stereo effects are good as well, showing good speaker separation and an obvious distinction between right and left.
The Lockout DVD contains only two extras. "Breaking into Lockout" (11 minutes) contains an interview with Co-Writer/Co-Director Stephen Saint Leger who discusses the story and the characters, as well as some specific scenes. We also hear from Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace who talk about their characters and their experiences on the set. In "A Vision of the Future" (10 minutes), Art Directors Frank Walsh and Oliver Hodge, along with Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Bain talk about the look of the film and the creation of the sets. We see concept drawings and animatics to get a sense of the planning which went into the film.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long