Guy Pearce buoys up sci-fi actionerBy Rito P. Asilo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE intriguing premise of a movie loses its pertinence if its exciting promise remains unrealized. This is true for James Mather and Stephen St. Leger’s “Lockout.” Set in 2079, the sci-fi actioner follows Snow (Guy Pearce), a former CIA agent framed for a crime he didn’t commit. He will get his shot at freedom if he successfully rescues the American president’s daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), from a Maximum Security prison overtaken by violent inmates.
Familiar? Here’s the catch: M.S. One, the special penitentiary cum experimental facility, is in outer space—it’s a prison in orbit where convicts are, for the most part, kept in suspended animation, until they’re tested for the effects of prolonged stasis on the human mind.
To say the least, the US government’s noble plan goes awry when the prisoners’ de facto leader, Alex, and his psychotic brother, Hydell, manage to outwit the prison’s incompetent guards and take over M.S. One—at a time when Emilie is on-board the spacecraft for humanitarian reasons! Then, all hell breaks loose.
Bolstered by its unique premise, the movie starts out well, because of its quick-paced narrative and the engaging moral questions it raises. Unfortunately, the exposition soon succumbs to a disjointed mix of comedy, action, thriller and romance—a fusion of genres that confounds even its actors, who, as a result, deliver uneven portrayals.
The film soon meanders into a flurry of violent scenes, chases and explosions that lead to its perfunctory finale, in which the toughies in outer space and the baddies on earth get their comeuppance.
Once the film loses its focus halfway through, you don’t need a sharp mind to predict how its story concludes.
“Lockout’s” saving grave is Pearce, who delivers a calibrated performance that pulls all the production’s disparate elements together. He doesn’t completely succeed, but, at least, he demonstrates how a good actor can make a difference—even in a so-so film!
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