“Uh, his name was Fuck You… Yeah, he was Asian.”
Oh Luc Besson… What have you reduced yourself to?
Once the reliable purveyor of classy action films, these days the Besson name is more likely to be found splashed all over the kind of cheap action knock offs even Dolph Lungren would turn his nose up at. For some reason Besson no longer concerns himself with trifling things such as writing and directing, instead preferring to pass on scraps of half baked ideas for up and coming talent to turn into reality. And so it falls to James Mather and Stephen St. Leger to take the reigns with sci-fi action schlock Lockout.
Guy Pierce stars as Sgt Snow, a terminally quipping and insufferably prickish 80s style action hero, combining the gruff wise-cracking of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine with the smooth one liners of James Bond. Serving a lengthy prison sentence, Snow is offered the chance to risk his life by saving the presidents daughter from a gang of psycho convicts who have recently broken free from their cyro-stasis cells on an orbital prison ship. In a flurry of nonsensical quips, Snow declines the opportunity but quickly reconsiders when one of the government types lets slip that someone on the prison ship may hold the proof to his innocence.
By now you are most likely thinking to yourself Escape from New York. Exactly how Besson is credited as ‘original idea by’ is a mystery. This is the kind of concept which has been recycled throughout the 80s and 90s and is regularly seen clogging up the supermarket bargain bins. The presence of his name more than likely reflects a drunken conversation and the scribbling down of some stick men pictures on a beer soaked napkin which was passed on to whoever was still listening to his ranting.
Having seen their breakthrough short film Prey Alone (available on youtube) hopes were raised high-ish for what Mather and Leger might have been able to do when armed with a bigger budget and a decent cast. Unfortunately everything is of exactly the same unpolished, amateurish standard, best demonstrated by an early car chase seemingly animated on a Megadrive. The sets look cheap, the guns look like toys, and the background computers less realistic than in a Red Dwarf episode. Apart from a surprisingly good looking CGI space battle later on it’s all a little bit embarrassing.
Of course, Lockout is meant to be a bit tongue in cheek but it isn’t meant to be all out ironically bad. Perhaps it sounds like the perfect Friday drunken film to be enjoyed in an ironic way but it really isn’t. There are one or two half decent stabs at action choreography, including a fist fight suspended above a fan, and there are one or two sniggers to be had when the action becomes knowingly silly, but it rarely goes beyond the level of two fan boys trying to replicate the films they idolise and not at all succeeding. The guys wear their Matrix trilogy influences on their sleeves, from the green filter, right down to the over excited orchestral music kicking in a soon as a fight kicks off, but based on this evidence it is doubtful we are witnessing the emergence of the next Wachowski brothers.
The ever dependable Pierce does well enough in the lead role but is ultimately hampered by the fact his character is a detestable c**t and spends most of the time dragging a mannequin female character around just so that he has someone to continually, irritatingly, incessantly throw his brainless quips at.
But special credit does have to go to the ever excellent Joe Gilgun who single handedly breaths some life into the film with a standout shift as an unhinged, off the wall and incomprehensible Scottish psychopath. Gilgun has himself a bit of a laugh and is able to display his brilliant knack for comedy. It isn’t quite a performance that can save the film but at least he is up on the silver screen and may break into more interesting things in the future.
Lockout is a cheap and brainless action still born of a film. A big disappointment and another stain on the once great name of Luc Besson.