By Gary Murray
Starring Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace and Peter Stormare
Written by Luc Besson, James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Running time 95 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
Luc Besson made one of the best sci-fi films of all time, The Fifth Element. The Heavy Metal magazine inspired tale of a cab driver who has to save the universe had all the elements one wants in a great motion picture. It is full of action/adventure/comedy/special effects that captured the imagination of young and old alike. Though he has directed a few other films, Luc has been spending more of his time writing screenplays. His latest screenplay follows some of the same general concepts are in his latest work Lockout.
The story takes place in the future—2079 to be exact. Snow (Guy Pearce) is an ex-government agent who seems to be working for the other side. As the work opens, he is being interrogated. It seems that a spy case with government secrets has been taken and Snow knows where it is. He handed it off to his buddy Mace (Tim Plester). Mace has been convicted and taken to an orbiting space station prison. He, like all the other prisoners, is kept in status. This prison hosts 500 of the worst of the worst criminal minds.
Emily (Maggie Grace) is the president’s daughter. She is visiting the station in order to find out if the criminals are being treated fairly. There are reports that the station is doing things that are not on the up and up. Some say that status is destroying the minds of the men. When interviewing a dangerous murderer Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), he gets the advantage over the secret service and takes the weapon. Hydell begins to free all the prisoners.
Snow is sent to the station to infiltrate the station, rescue the president’s daughter and get out before the situation goes past the point of no return. Snow wants to get on the station, get Mace out of status and find out where he hid the case. The film becomes a race against time as the station begins to fall from the sky and the bad guys try to figure out a way to get back to earth. The film becomes more of a thrill ride that feels like a modern day Western—a High Noon in space.
Guy Pearce just owns every scene in this movie. He is flippant and snaky while being focused on his mission. There is this perpetual smirk on his face as the takes on the almost insurmountable odds that are stacked against him. Pearce has a twinkle in his eye as if he were having the time of his life doing this role. I hope this film becomes a franchise because this is a character that deserves more than one film.
Maggie Grace is the damsel in distress straight out of fairytale land. Though this is usually a trite exercise, she does the best she can with what she has to work with. She has all the snappy comebacks with Guy Pearce but her character almost becomes a victim of weak writing. This is a guy’s film.
The biggest find of Lockout is Joseph Gilgun as Hydell. He plays the psycho killer to a degree that DeNiro wishes he could pull off. Although this is a small part it is also a tremendous performance. It is one of the stronger roles of the piece and one of the stronger performances of the year.
The film looks wonderful, full of CGI effects and explosions. Directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger capture the future with the grit and grime ala Blade Runner while still foraging a new trail. It feels a bit like The Fifth Element in style but not so much in substance.
Lockout is the first true blockbuster style film of the year. It is fun and action filled with enough thrills for just about every sci-fi and adventure junkie. It is one of the best films put out in 2012 and should not be missed.