Lockout isn’t your typical sci-fi action film with the usual spaceships and explosions. It’s far more complex because it’s an amalgam of a lot of genres — primarily action and horror— subsumed under the broader term “sci-fi.” The story takes place in 2079, a year in which space prisons are government-funded programs and, sadly for rogue agent Snow (Guy Pearce), smoking has gone out of style. Snow is an arrogant, rough, wise-cracking anti-hero who gets convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. His only option for freedom is to rescue the president’s daughter, Emily (Maggie Grace), who is on board the world’s first space prison. The prison has been taken over by its inmates, setting the scene for an intense action movie.
Writer Luc Besson takes Lockout’s story a step further by aiming less at the thrill of explosions and more towards the dark psychological horror of being trapped in a space station with the most dangerous criminals alive. For that reason, Lockout is not for everyone. There is no trace, whatsoever, of a Transformers-esque experience with a shallow plot and lots of flashy fight scenes. Instead, Lockout provides viewers with 90 minutes of horrific audio-visual experiences featuring inmates involved in one mentally-scarring incident after another. Viewers, for instance, get to watch one inmate stab his brother through the chest. They also witness another inmate’s skull being cut wide open for a research experiment.
In this film, character after character suffers a painful, gruesome death and some downright freaky stuff happens aboard the frightening space prison. This isn’t your average “male hero rescues a damsel in distress story,” either. The film’s hero, Snow, really doesn’t want to rescue Emily because he knows how bad the odds are: “I’d rather castrate myself with blunt rocks.” Nonetheless, he does try to rescue the president’s daughter, only because if he succeeds, he’ll be a free man. Hence, by the time Snow ends up reaching Emily inside the prison, there’s no joyous reunion.
The chemistry between the two lead characters never really gels; consequently, I had a hard time fully connecting with either of them. The ironic part is that although the characters themselves are shallow, the dialogue is probably the highlight of Lockout. The clever, witty, and edgy dialogue does an all-around fantastic job at making the viewer laugh out loud or gasp in shock.
Lockout, as an experiment in a new hybrid genre, is fantastic, but the film needs to tone down the violence if it wants to appeal to a wider audience. Lockout was just plain too scary at times and that was probably the biggest issue I had with this film overall. Despite its PG-13 rating, this film is too violent for younger teens. I recommend Lockout for viewers with cast-iron stomachs who crave a new sci-fi-action-horror experience.
The film’s website: http://www.lockoutfilm.com/