Lockout Blu-ray Review
Ever since Luc Beeson entered the public consciousness as the writer/director of LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL (1994) and THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997), I’ve gotten excited every time I hear his name attached to a new project. Very few of his recent films have materialized the same way, despite some clever writing and an obvious flair for the deliciously cheesy. Besson has made his career more about writing and producing some great, entertaining, sometimes corny films: TAKEN (2008), THE TRANSPORTER (2002), even the niche animated French films ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES (and both sequels. Besson’s love for film is evident in almost everything he touches and LOCKOUT is no exception.
LOCKOUT opens with the type of scene that usually is reserved for the finale of a big budget action epic. Former CIA operative Snow (Guy Pearce) is being interrogated by the head of the Secret Service, Scott Langral (Peter Stormare). Snow verbally dishes as well as he takes physically, but he gives enough information that we are able to start piecing together the story (through flashback). Snow was helping a friend (and agent) who was trying to protect government secrets. Langral believes that Snow killed this agent – so Snow is summarily convicted and given 30 years stasis (frozen) on an orbital maximum security prison known as M.S.1. But Snow’s trip changes when the President’s daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace, who looks a lot older than she did in TAKEN) is taken hostage on M.S.1 while on a humanitarian mission.
Instead of sending him there to join the prisoners, a CIA friend convinces Langral to give Snow a chance to redeem himself; all he has to do is go into the prison, rescue the President’s daughter from the 500 now-unfrozen inmates, and get her off the station safely. Snow handles this, like everything else he does, with bravado that seems fake, then corny, and finally actually enjoyable. Snow is the cool secret agent that we all pretended we were when we were kids. Unstoppable, unflappable, and completely in control even when the world is literally falling down all around him. Add in the decent (if one dimensional) partnership between Snow and the President’s daughter and the banter starts to play like that rat-a-tat-tat of a snare drum, emphasizing the beats in the action and keeping the movie flowing.
This isn’t to say that LOCKOUT is a perfect action movie. The baddies (and a lot of the dialogue) are more reminiscent of a Corman flick than Besson’s usual style – likely an intentional choice but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Peter Stormare, who I usually really enjoy regardless of the quality of the film, is a low point in LOCKOUT. He seems too stiff, too wooden to be living in this surreal world. The action is generally nicely presented, but there is probably less than would typically be expected of a film in this genre. The action is quality, though, for the most part focusing on the science fiction attributes of this possible future.
The breakout performances of the film, though, can be found in the two primary baddies – Alex (Vincent Regan from 300) and Hydell (Joseph Gilgun of HARRY BROWN). Regan is pitch perfect as the sane side of the evil coin, and Gilgun is terrifyingly brutal as the, well, other side of that coin. Both are caricatures, but like Snow are incredibly fun to watch. If anything, Besson shows here that he still knows how to create a captivating sci-fi universe. LOCKOUT was directed by first time feature filmmakers James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. It’s clear that Besson had a huge hand in the film, but I’m excited to see what these two are capable of next round out.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) The transfer is pitch perfect and the dreary colors of this dirty (and probably somewhat realistic) imagining of the future make LOCKOUT all the more authentic. You won’t want to, but you’ll find yourself lost in LOCKOUT’s world.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD MA) The sound is also nicely presented and keeps you banging in the loud world of LOCKOUT. The mix isn’t overpowering though, which is nice given the amount of dialogue delivered by Pearce that is pretty well-crafted (about half of it).
Breaking Into LOCKOUT (11:07) The cast and crew of LOCKOUT talk about the experience of bringing this film to the screen – another fairly standard special feature. Spoiler warning – don’t watch this before you watch the movie unless you want to know some fairly key moments ahead of time.
A Vision of the Future (10:13) This is a feature that I really enjoyed. LOCKOUT takes place in a different world, 2079, but most of the action takes place in the bowels of a prison that could exist in any time. George Lucas could take a cue from these guys – use of practical sets actually helps the actors give better performances. (Well, maybe LOCKOUT isn’t the best example – but seriously! It’s a good point.)