Outer Space Prison: A Space Cowboy’s Paradise

Oh, yes, Lockout is most certainly a Luc Besson production that he decided to generate an idea for but not grace with his talent.

Guy Pearce plays Snow, the hot shot who could probably save the world if he was asked to. But in Lockout, all they’re asking him to do, after being wrongly convicted of espionage, is to go to SPACE PRISON and rescue the PRESIDENT’S HOT DAUGHTER. Piece of cake.

Science fiction junkies should ultimately get a kick out of Lockout. It isn’t the most wildly creative space action movie to grace our presence, but it’s serviceable and pretty much what one would expect from a middle of the road genre flick.

In its most basic concept, Lockout is a space western. But its more reminiscent of a 1970’s acid western or spaghetti western than it is of the great American John Wayne/John Ford classics. The character of Snow actually makes for a pretty decent space cowboy, what with his sharp hit or miss one liners, sarcastic nature and rugged exterior. I quite enjoyed watching him loathingly work his way through an outer space prison where all the insane prisoners are sort of cryogenically frozen into a deep sleep to serve out their terms. Snow navigates the terrain in a most fascinating and begrudging fashion.

Even though the film lasts  just about 90 minutes, I wasn’t sure how many loops Lockout could throw me through. You know, the moments where it’s like. Ah okay, that seems to be taken care of. You’re done for/you’ll easily survive. Oh wait, I found a convenient passage through the severely locked down room. We’re safe/dead. It’s these kind of mundane plot maneuvers that puts the pain in my brain when it comes to formulaic action sequences. That said, Lockout, which was written and directed by Stephen St. Leger and James Mather, actually does come up with a few neat and fun moments to keep you watching and enjoying.

After seeing Lockout with my friend, we discussed the merits of Snow’s dialogue. It almost literally consists of one liners, as if he doesn’t know how to speak in any other way but to degrade the situation, his opponent, his friends or himself. To me it was tiresome. My friend disagreed. That’s okay. I actually liked some of what he had to say, mostly when he was in the company of the president’s daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), who gets kidnapped after a prison break on the prison she is visiting on official humanitarian business or something like that. Their interplay is fun and works well. The rest of the time not so much.

Because there are so few adept entries in this genre, Lockout gets a pass. Just like Event Horizon and Pandorum, these films won’t sit well with everyone. They all need a high suspension of disbelief to enjoy. If one can do that, and if one really, really wants to watch a romp through space prisons, Lockout is…well…awesome. It isn’t perfect, it drags in a few places and makes you want to question yourself for enjoying it, but the direction of the film is interesting enough to make it worthwhile for any science fiction fan eagerly seeking something to tide them over until Prometheus destroys every other science fiction film made in the last 20 years in a few months. See ya then, Guy Pearce, you space cowboy you.

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