Synopsis: A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president’s daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.
Stars: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Lennie James, Joseph Gilgun
Director: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Running Length: 95 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: Nuke trainer ~ Matt Leonard
TMMM Score: (3/10)
Review: If ever there existed a movie that needed Ritalin then Lockout is it. At certain points during this dreary piece of Eurotrash cinema one feels inclined to stand up and just fling a jar of Adderal at the screen in hopes that it will calm down and focus itself. What looked to be a fun and pulpy sci-fi actioner is really just the grandly dumb product of hyperactive directors, a jagged edged editor, and a hollow script.
Released internationally as MS One: Maximum Security, the film has been renamed Lockout for US audiences in head-scratching fashion. Who exactly is being lockedout is the least of your worries…because after 20 minutes it’s clear you are the one locked in to another 70 minutes of bad acting and depressingly bad special effects. Filmed in Belgrade, Serbia on sets that looked to be left over from the original Star Trek series, the first thirty seconds shows promise. Then people start talking and, y’know, moving around and that’s all she wrote.
One thing you can’t say about this movie is that it lacks forward momentum. In fact, it’s in a perpetual state of motion moving so fast that it actually gets ahead of itself at several points. Woe be the audience member that looks down at their Sour Patch Kids to search for an orange one because you may just miss an entire storyline crammed into several seconds of film. Nothing in the movie lasts long…ideas, plans, disguises, alliances, trust…it’s all fleeting and based solely on the whim of directors Mather and St. Leger.
Frenchman Luc Besson had some good success in the 80’s and 90’s with several key films that I do enjoy: The Big Blue is an underappreciated epic (seek out the moody Director’s Cut), The Professional is a delight, La Femme Nikita’s style endures, and The Fifth Element is so off the wall weird that I consider it a classic. Lately, he’s been producing low-budget action fare that makes a killing in international markets and sometimes scores big in the US. He contributed to this script from his original idea and on paper you can see where the appeal of the film is. It’s not hard to imagine this going the big studio route and snagging some big talent to board ship.
Unfortunately, Besson has good ideas that don’t translate well in the script department. Dialogue seems to have been translated from French using the Alta Vista Babel Fish translator I relied on so much to get through Spanish in college. How some of these actors could say these lines with a straight face is beyond me…but I have a feeling many of these supporting characters didn’t speak much English to begin with and were just happy to be on screen.
Speaking of these supporting characters, I’m wondering if there wasn’t some Win a Line in a Movie lottery held while casting. You’ve never heard line readings quite as bizarre as you will should you choose of your own free will to see it. Try hard not to stifle a laugh anytime the actor playing the President has a line. Double that suppressed laughter when Stormare garbles out his dialogue in his still broken English (dude…even Penelope Cruz has mastered our language…get with the program).
At the center of all things is Pearce looking alternately bored and asleep. Pearce is better than this material and he knows it…so why would he have agreed to star in this stinker? Was he desperate to see the foothills of Belgrade or taste the fabulous blood sausage of Serbia? It’s a mystery…though not as big of a mystery as to why the producers went with Grace as his leading lady. Grace has a bad case of the January Joneses in that she can’t act her way out of a Ziploc bag…but maybe it’s not all her fault as she is asked to deliver some heinous dialogue in an equally heinous wig.
You want logic? Look somewhere else. I could have filled this entire review with plot holes and problems with consistency. For example…at the beginning the film takes place in space and on earth. The year is 2079 so let’s give the filmmakers a break and say that space travel has greatly improved in that amount of time. How, though, could Pearce be having a conversation on earth while Grace is up in space when suddenly she is taken hostage and he is in space prepped to help her within 10 minutes. There’s more to it than that but trust me when I say that how people get where they need to be defies the space-time continuum and it happens multiple times throughout the film.
I love a good space epic and/or futuristic movie because that’s when filmmakers can let their creativity run wild. In Lockout there is unfortunately nothing that indicates our future has any innovation to it at all. Where are the big ideas or shoot-for-the-moon inventions? Aside from the central idea of a prison in space there is zilch in terms of progress.
The special effects are straight out of a Sega Genesis game…the one that your grandma gave you and you never played. Low-budget or not there is simply no excuse for effects this bad (look at the excellent Moon for how far a micro-budget can be stretched). I swear there were a few shots were they simply forgot to digitally add the actors faces in…so it looks like space suits have no one in them. It’s just another nail in Lockout’s flimsy space suit that eventually depressurizes the entire affair.
Bad dialogue, atrocious acting, goofy effects, and a terrible musical score make Lockout a real labor to get through. Ninety minutes will no doubt feel like a space age eternity…it’s the kind of movie that you’d see in Redbox and debate whether to use your free code on. Please do trust me when I tell you to see anything else available instead of selecting this as an option.