One man can make a difference - he can make predictable, half-baked hokum like Lockout almost watchable.
English-born Australian actor Guy Pearce bulks up and wedges his tongue firmly in cheek for this brawny, testosterone-fuelled action romp that follows a similar plot to Escape From New York.
It’s a depressingly dim-witted affair, hung on Pearce’s sexist, politically incorrect rebel, whose amusing wise cracks are the only indication that the script was indeed co-written by Luc Besson and directors Stephen St Leger and James Mather, and not churned out by a computer program that amalgamates tired cliches.
Thus, when the hero and a damsel in distress are flung to the ground by an explosion and he regains consciousness with her head in his lap, he sleazily deadpans, “You don’t have to do that. A simple thank you will be enough.” Charming.
The year is 2079 and hard-bitten CIA Agent Snow (Pearce) is caught in the crossfire of an undercover mission.
Snow’s superior is killed, supposedly by the agent, and secret service goons Langral (Peter Stormare) and Shaw (Lennie James) secure a murder conviction, which carries a sentence of 30 years in stasis in the experimental maximum security prison MS One.
Before Snow can slip into artificial slumber, trouble erupts on the orbiting prison.
The president’s daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace) is taken hostage during a breakout of the inmates.
She has travelled to the 21st century Alcatraz to interview rapists and psychopaths about the side-effects of the drugs that subdue them.
President Warnock (Peter Hudson) authorises her rescue and Shaw proposes to send in Snow to infiltrate the prison and protect the First Daughter.
“I’d rather castrate myself with blunt rocks,” responds the CIA agent but Snow eventually dons his spacesuit to breach the facility’s defences and evade top dog Alex (Vincent Regan) and his mentally unstable brother Hydell (Joe Gilgun).
Lockout sentences us to 95 minutes of cat and mouse, bookmarked by fisticuffs and excess violence.
Pearce is all brawn and no personality, while Grace is insipid.
Regan and Gilgun essay pantomime villains, laying on thick accents to put another nail in the coffin of Anglo-Scottish relations.
Action set pieces have been severely edited.
By the time our pulses quicken, the pyrotechnics are over, and always with a whimper rather than a bang.
A high-speed motorcycle cycle chase, which St Leger and Mather clumsily shoehorn into a flashback, is a pile-up of sloppy digital effects, while a fight in an anti-gravity chamber is poorly realised.
The explosive finale manages to defy both the laws of logic and gravity.
At a critical juncture, one prisoner shows alarming signs of dementia as a result of the stasis drugs.
“Some people just unravel,” laments Emilie.
St Leger and Mather’s film implodes far quicker.
By Sarah Dale
:: SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 4/10
Released: April 20 (UK & Ireland), 95 mins