Guy Pearce Rescues Prisoners, A Film
Kevin Noonan | Friday, April 20, 2012
Guy Pearce’s “Lockout” isn’t a particularly good movie. The plot is a little confusing, with the kind of last-minute plot twist that manages to pull off the post-“Sixth Sense” Shyamalan paradox of the audience absolutely not seeing it coming, but also totally and completely not caring.
The acting, outside Pearce and one of the villains, is stiff at best. The special effects are at brief times impressive and visionary, but inevitably devolve into a video game-like blurriness and artificiality.
The characters, mostly as a result of the plot-by-“Mad Libs” and the Hayden Christensen-inspired acting performances, are mostly uninteresting, unsympathetic and undeveloped.
But come on. Is anybody who’s seen the trailer going to the theaters expecting “The Dark Knight?” No. Is Guy Pearce supposed to portray a man struggling with inner psychological issues, or some artsy junk like it’s a Colin Firth movie? No. Also, sidebar, no offense is meant to Colin Firth – great actor.
“Lockout” is a cheap thrill, a B-movie with low aspirations, little depth and lots of explosions. It’s not the greatest B-movie of all time (see: “Killer Klowns From Outer Space”) but it clearly knows the formula for success, and delivers on that formula.
The film is produced by Luc Besson, a man with a history of slick, commercially-minded films, which often trade substance for style. Besson also produced the 2008 Liam-Neeson-kicks-butt celebration, “Taken,” another example of a film that succeeds in spite of its lack of storytelling depth.
Much like “Taken,” Besson’s latest film places much of the burden on the shoulders of its leading man. And in this case, the leading man is more likeable, and equally as hard-core as Neeson in “Taken” (Mr. Neeson, please don’t come track me down and exact revenge for saying that).
Guy Pearce once again proves himself to be a fantastic actor with an unbelievable range of ability, both dramatically and physically. He is the shining star that takes this film from extremely mediocre to wonderfully and delightfully average.
Pearce plays Snow, a former CIA agent in the near future – 2079 – caught up in a murder investigation. Pearce claims innocence, but is convicted without trial and sentenced to 30 years “stasis,” a medically-induced coma, aboard “MS-1,” a new prison that floats around in space. It’s the same prison which, conveniently, hosts Snow’s partner, who is the only person in the universe who knows where a mysterious briefcase is hidden. This briefcase can supposedly prove Pearce’s innocence.
But when a philanthropic trip to the prison by the President’s daughter, played by Maggie Grace, who also played Neeson’s daughter in “Taken,” results in a massive prison breakout and hostage situation (I told you, thin plot), it seems Snow is the only one who can get her out alive.
Snow is clearly a relic of an older generation, despite being a fairly young guy. He wears t-shirts when everyone around him is in suits and battle gear. He carries a shotgun, even though clearly the weaponry has advanced far past that point. And he smokes cigarettes and continually plays with a Zippo lighter, which another character in the film points out is far past out-of-style.
Pearce’s portrayal of Snow as a sarcastic, common-sense genius of covert combat is brilliant, and goes beyond the clichÃ© notions of a character which everyone has seen a million times before.
It’s Pearce’s style and humor that make the film, not to mention his general awesomeness as a professional butt-kicker.
The real question about this film, though, is why Pearce, a star in highly-respected and successful films such as “L.A. Confidential,” “Memento,” and “The Count of Monte Cristo” is in it.
It’s a question for which I don’t have answer, but I believe Jim Craig would say there are about thirty thousand of them, all sitting in his New York bank account. Thank goodness he is in this movie, though, and hopefully somebody in Hollywood will give him a reward for saving “Lockout” from the unforgiving jaws of bland mediocrity.