‘Lockout’ only good for a laugh

By Larissa Gula

Silly and predictable action films… “Lockout”

Directors: James Mather & Stephen St. Leger

Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan

Grade: C

Silly and predictable action films can still be entertaining, as long as the viewer is in the right mindset.

The French sci-fi action movie “Lockout” is one such film, featuring a simultaneously quick and lazy plot set in 2079, in which a man who goes by the name “Snow” (Guy Pearce) is arrested and framed for a crime he did not commit. He’s convicted and set to be shipped off to the orbiting space prison MS One. Since prisoners sent to MS One serve their sentences in a frozen state, the correctional facility is known for having a perfect prison record.

But before Snow can be sent to the maximum-security prison, a prisoner manages to escape. The other convicts inside are then set loose and overrun the prison. Two inmates, Alex (Vincent Regan) and the psychotic Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), quickly take command.

Since the prison break took place while the president’s daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), was visiting the site, Snow is offered a deal: earn his freedom by rescuing Emilie. For the majority of the film, Snow attempts to board MS One and then escape.

By cinematic standards, “Lockout” does not qualify as a good film. It’s predictable and straightforward, and as a result, it’s silly. Even by sci-fi standards, the level of incredulity an audience member will experience during this film is absurd. “Lockout” does not make much sense.

But for some viewers, the actors and writing might make up for the lack of originality in the story and plotlines. The cliches might even make this film entertaining.

Snow comes across as a witty badass, never panicking and almost always keeping his cool. He cracks jokes at just the right moments throughout the movie. The indifferent action hero is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean Pearce’s portrayal of the trope isn’t enjoyable. From the start of the film, Snow showcases his personality. During an interrogation scene, he answers every question with a wisecrack, receives a punch in the head and then repeats the process five or six times. But every remark makes the audience smile.

Emilie is not an entirely useless damsel in distress. She acts bravely in her attempt to watch over the other people trapped in the overrun prison, despite Snow’s orders to rescue her and take her back to her father.

This does not mean the characters have a strong relationship. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The interactions between most of the characters in this film are entertaining during the movie, but shallow in hindsight.

In the end, “Lockout” primarily does what viewers expect from an action flick — ignores character development, creates basic personalities for the leads and moves forward with the action. Unfortunately, sci-fi films like “Lockout” tend to overlook potential undertones of government corruption and illegal activity in favor of outlandish plot elements.

Despite — or rather, because — it’s a mess of a movie, “Lockout” is a film that viewers can enjoy but will not recommend to others. It’s a shallow popcorn action flick — nothing more, but nothing less.