Guy Pearce is a beast, and lately he’s been shortchanged on his roles. He was essentially the Boromir of “The Hurt Locker”, and Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” definitely wasn’t “starring” Guy, so finally having him as a leading man in something as badass as “Lockout” was well overdue. His amazing acting plus Luc Besson’s brilliant action writing made for an hour and a half of total ass-kickery, and I’m going to tell you all about it.
All around the world families have special traditions for Christmas Eve, whether it’s opening a present, watching “It’s A Wonderful Life”, or ordering Chinese food. For some reason I choose to watch Kevin Reynolds’ “The Count of Monte Cristo” every year with my good friend Eric, so if you haven’t seen that definitely get on it. Even after years of watching the same movie every Eve, Guy Pearce still manages to wow me with each viewing. But I digress.
“Lockout” is a space-action-thriller written by Luc Besson (famous for “The Professional”, “The Transporter”, and “Taken”…so basically any movie where people kick major ass and look awesome while doing it) about a prison takeover. It seems to follow the same recipe as “Escape from New York/LA” except Guy Pearce’s “Snow” has a ton more one-liners. The plot starts with the president’s humanitarian daughter visiting a space prison to make sure that prisoners are being treated fairly. Once she arrives the first thing she does is interview the most Scottish man on the planet (or in this case, space) as I couldn’t understand a damn thing the guy said. While interviewing Angus he manages to kill some guards, blow a hole in a wall, and escape.
All of the prisoners are freed from their cryo-sleep including Angus’ older and less Scottish brother, and then the space station becomes a giant Chuck ‘E Cheese for the prisoners and their hostages. Enter Guy Pearce as the ex-Special Ops guy with a sweet ‘tude. His little back story is that he claims he was set up when it appears he killed some other special ops guy, so instead of facing life imprisonment he gets to face space imprisonment. Sorry, couldn’t resist. But anyway, as long as he rescues the President’s daughter he’ll have his freedom. This is where every other convict-rescues-someone movie launches the plotline, but thanks to Besson’s great storytelling Pearce actually turns this option down. It’s not until another character gives him a better reason to go that he finally agrees and the film becomes the snarky, action comedy that it is.
I have always found it better to go into a Luc Besson film without expectations, but not because they’re bad but rather because you just have no idea how amazing it’s going to end up being. “The Professional” came out when Natalie Portman was just a kid but the fact that “Lockout” was excellent gives me hope for the future of great idea filmmaking. Most sci-fi movies these days seem to involve aliens of some sort, or blue cat people (what’s that all about?) so it’s nice to go back to our roots and have a good ol’ human vs. human conflict. IN SPACE. The acting is spectacular, even from the Scottish brothers who might as well be speaking in Klingon, but I implore you to watch it for Guy Pearce. I’ll admit that I’m not well-versed in his older work but I really hope that “Lockout” opened up plenty of doors for his future in the acting world because man, is he versatile.
You’re a big girl, right? Here’s an apple and a gun. Don’t talk to strangers, shoot them.
DIRECTOR’S CUT: Excellent. Guns. Action. Zingers. Space.
FLICKCHART RATING: 288/1916