Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lockout [2012]

Director: James Mather & Stephen St. Leger
Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Lennie James, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun
Genre: Science fiction/Action
Rating: General
Excerpt: "A modern day B-movie. What's not to like about that?"

In the future where man are on the brink of expanding our civilisation out into space, Lockout follows government agent Snow (Guy Pearce) who's on a mission to retrieve a mysterious briefcase, but then finds himself framed for a murder he did not commit. The Government sentences him to thirty years in stasis prison, just outside of Earth's atmosphere. Meanwhile, the U.S President's daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace) is on a Humanitarian mission to discover first hand what's it like on the stasis prison. Things go horribly wrong when a prison riot erupts during her trip, and the Government has no real choice but to send Snow to rescue her in exchange for freedom.

What to Expect
1. A throwback to action flicks of the '80s
2. Guy Pearce being cool as ice
3. Funny tough guy one-liners
4. Memorable characters
5. Video game visuals

What NOT to Expect
1. Cliche-free
2. Intensity
Good enough for what it was. No less, no more.
This is going to be a short one because this was one of those simple, straightforward movies that will divide the audience like Moses and the Red Sea. I will say this, though. If you find yourself not liking the movie, well then I must ask "what were you expecting?" because I believe the advertising had been crystal clear on what kind of a movie Lockout sought out to be. What you see in the trailer is exactly what you'll get.

Although this is not one of those movies where the trailer literally contained the best parts of the movie.

I don't remember when, but I believe I've used the expression "modern day B-movie" before albeit the connotation of it was rather negative. It's the opposite this time around, not because I change my mind like a pro badminton player changes shuttlecocks. But rather, because the people behind Lockout understood the basics behind what made the feel and tone of action movies of old so recognisable. No, it's not just guns and explosions.

Sure, there's a lot of that in this one too, but that's not where the strength of the movie lies. At the very core of Lockout was a one-dimensional but likable protagonist who's pretty much invincible although not Schwarzenegger enough for us to not feel like there was anything at stake. Simply put, he was more of a John McClane and less like John Matrix.

Granted, I'm not suggesting that Snow is going to be as iconic. However, for people like me who grew up on a steady diet of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, it's like we are lacking in Laconic action heroes who just don't give a rat's ass. You'll see Snow do just that; Spurt off hilarious one-liners, insult his superiors, and when the occasion calls for it, he'll kick some ass.

The only problem, where they got the characters right, ironically it was in the action department that was a little lacking somehow. It might had been the CGI and that one video game-like action sequence that did it, but Lockout could have been more intense. I don't believe it was the Sci-fi setting that watered it down. It's just that there could have been more elaborate action sequences that would have made it a classic B-movie. You know, like Taken [2008]?

You see, what made Taken have such a grip on pop culture was the fact that it felt very "hands-on"; the stunts seemed real, the injuries made people cringe, and Liam Neeson's no-nonsense take on the character was just... Memorable. Evidently they wanted to go in a slightly different direction, where they keep the formula of molding a real actor into an action hero, but add a dash of Tron and slightly less Rambo.

It was a great idea, and sure enough it ended up an entertaining popcorn flick anyway. But ultimately if you were hoping for another Taken, you'll find that Lockout falls short of that expectation by an arm's reach.

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