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Guy Pearce saves space thriller from terrible writing

By Jordan Wright
On April 17, 2012

The term dumb fun has been thrown around over the course of the last decade or so to describe films that may be entertaining despite lacking in logic. While I'm still trying to sort out my feelings toward "Lockout" I cannot deny that it has mastered the dumb part of the aforementioned term. To what extent the fun has been executed, however, is a question that I am still grappling.

If anybody has seen the first five seconds of any of the film's numerous trailers, it's abundantly obvious that "Lockout" is essentially an "Escape from New York" clone.  Replace the President with the President's daughter, the name Snake with Snow, and put the prison in space instead of in Manhattan and congratulations, you've got "Lockout."

For those of you unaware of John Carpenter's early 1980s sci-fi classic about an ex-soldier who must infiltrate a giant prison to rescue a political official in the middle of a riot, "Lockout" stars Guy Pearce of "Memento," famed as narcissistic disgraced federal agent Snow who must break into MS:One, a high security prison located in space to rescue the president's daughter - played by Maggie Grace - who has been taken hostage after a prison interview leads to a riot that leads to all of the prisoners breaking out of cryonic stasis and taking control of the station.

God bless Guy Pearce for trying. His deadpan expression and timing of his delivery steals every scene that he is a part of and endeared me to his character so much that I almost wouldn't mind seeing a sequel exclusively focusing on his exploits.

I'm quite honestly surprised that he doesn't try to do action films more often because he is certainly a refreshing change of pace from the dull and lifeless straight man who's idea of being cool is not talking and staring intensely. His fantastic performance, given what weak material he had to work with, is astounding and kept me watching at moments when I would have been tempted to walk out of any other movie.

Unfortunately, I was thrust back into reality upon discovering that the entire premise of the film was only made possible because a prison operating in the dangerous environment of the vacuum of space didn't feel it necessary to put a guard at the door of the room containing a live and awake prisoner.

I'll fully admit that Pearce's performance along with several well-shot action sequences prevented the film from being painful but this film is one of the unintentionally dumbest things that I have seen in a long time. Between constantly flip-flopping between stupid and derivative, I finally reached a saturation point where I couldn't even eye roll or shake my head in annoyance or disappointment.

"Lockout" is not a good movie. It has great things about it, but its lack of initiative to go above and beyond the films that it is trying to imitate prevents it from being anything more than an average popcorn flick, worthy of a single rental viewing on a Friday night.

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