Luc Besson sure is prolific. The man may have ‘only’ directed 18 films in his career but he is also credited as a writer on 45 titles and a producer on a 107 titles. Granted there is some overlap, but still! The man is 53-years-old and his earliest credit dates back to 1981. That is tremendous output even for a 31-year career.
All of that to say that he is the man behind the idea for Lockout, a film starring Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare and Lennie James in a film about a prisoner breakout in a maximum security prison.
Feel like you’ve seen this movie before? No problem. Lockout‘s prison is in space! Couple that with sci-fi jargon about stasis and orbiting stations, and boom! Original take on a well-worn idea.
When the President’s daughter Emilie (Grace) who is visiting the prison on a fact-finding mission becomes one of the hostages when the prisoners break out, an aide named Shaw (James) suggests that it might be more prudent to send Snow (Pearce) in to attempt a rescue rather than sending in the cavalry with all guns blazing.
So Snow gets in, banters with the woman of the moment, and attempts to get both of them out alive.
The beats of this movie are standard but there is an inherent edge to all proceedings because the idea of being stuck on an orbiting satellite inhabited by the world’s worst rapists and murderers adds tension to even the smallest action taken by the good guys.
Guy Pearce seems to be channeling a little bit of the ole Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp, limp-wristed, too-lazy-to-fight into his performance as Snow, the ex-CIA operative who is wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to thirty years aboard the prison far, far away from the rest of humankind. It helps that Pearce’s performance is easy-breezy and he is just as effective with his fists as he is with his quips.
Maggie Grace seems to be Mr. Besson’s go-to version of Kim Bauer for the moment but she gets to put on her action pants for this role. And she doesn’t do too badly, all things considered. Peter Stormare delivers lines in a rhythm that can best be described as ‘stitched together in post’ but the screenwriters manage to give him a decent character arc so it all works out in the end.
Directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger had directed just one other short before Lockout and that was way back in 2004. I recognized the name and realized that I had seen the film, way back when, in the days of slower internet connections, or as time is measured these days: pre-YouTube. I can see how this movie is a natural progression from Prey Alone.
Lockout is a fun, high-concept B-movie. It is exactly the kind of film you’d want to call up off your digital rental service for lazy Sunday viewing.