Guilty Pleasure: Lockout
This deep-space Die Hard gets a boost from quip-firing star Guy Pearce.
What does it say about the current state of Hollywood popcorn fare that the year’s most enjoyable bit of English-language, action-flick nonsense was made by a bunch of Frenchmen? Released in theaters in April—and arriving this week on VOD—the futuristic, Luc Besson–produced Lockout fulfilled the summer’s dumb-fun quotient two weeks before the movie season began. That’s probably because it’s basically a dozen genre films in one, with a script that borrows liberally from Die Hard, Escape from New York, Con Air and more than a few other lone-soldier-takes-on-the-bad-guys entertainments.
The lone soldier this time is Snow, a wisecracking, wrongfully arrested CIA agent, played with levity and macho swagger by a bulked-up Guy Pearce. The bad guys are the convicts of an orbiting space prison; they’ve escaped their cryogenic sleep chambers and taken hostages, including the President’s spunky daughter (Maggie Grace). To win his freedom, Snow must sneak aboard the station and rescue the civilians—a task that results in some agreeably old-school stealth maneuvering. The absurdities pile up faster than the bodies; in a hilariously meaningless sacrifice, a Secret Service agent takes his own life to buy Grace’s character a few extra seconds of air. And while the PG-13 rating puts a serious damper on the bloodshed, directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger stage what may be the most squirm-inducing needle scene since Pulp Fiction.
It’s Pearce, though, who makes Lockout a trash-cinema-era transmission worth intercepting. The Prometheus actor wields one-liners with the ease and conviction of a born action star. Those feeling nostalgic for the heyday of John McClane or Snake Plissken should skip the multiplex and cozy up instead with this B-movie throwback. (Available on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray Tue 17.)