Lockout (2012)

(On-demand, September 2012) Perhaps the best thing about the digitalization of the filmmaking process has been to expand the scope of small cheap action movies.  Add some CGI sequences and a lot of green-screen set extensions to a moderately clever script and suddenly it’s entirely possible to make an action film set aboard an orbital space station in 2079 for a reported 20-million-dollars budget.  Lockout’s real asset, though, is the straightforward script: it’s all about action nonsense, and from the very first shot of the film onward, it never apologizes for what it tries to be.  Sure, the idea of cryogenically keeping prisoners in a space station is economically ludicrous (albeit justified later on with a bit of Evil Intention).  Sure, the idea of sending in a renegade agent to sort the mess is reminiscent of Escape from New York.  Sure, the film’s science starts out idiotic and then sinks further in impossibility.  But it’s hard to take it as anything more or deeper than a straight-up action thriller.  As such, Lockout satisfies expectations: it’s not refined, subtle or even memorable, but it’s got a clever kick to it –but that’s about as much as we can expect from the Luc Besson script factory on good days.  It helps a lot that it’s headed by Guy Pearce, temporarily abandoning his dramatic thespian ambitions to deliver a fully-muscled performance as a snarky anti-hero.  It’s too bad that the script could have been just a touch better, or the action sequences just a bit more memorable.  As such, we’re left with a moderately satisfying thriller: Lockout is exactly what can hit a sweet spot on a rainy day, but not something that people will quote as a reference months later.

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