‘Lockout’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 26th, 2014 at 7:52 pm,

Lockout Guy Pearce Lockout Review

For thriller fans looking for an enjoyable-but-brainless popcorn flick, Mather and St. Leger have delivered a (mostly) competent Luc Besson actioner.

Despite a solid headliner in Guy Pearce, the underwhelming marketing for Lockout, which makes the project look like a direct-to-DVD experience, has been enough to cause a lot of moviegoers to forget that the film was actually developed by well-known thriller writer/director/producer Luc Besson (The Fifth Element and Taken). While Besson outsourced directorial duties to untested feature co-helmers, James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, the fan-favorite producer was still instrumental in crafting the Lockout story – as well as overseeing production.

As a result, it’s no surprise that Lockout features plenty of Besson’s staple calling cards: most notably a snarky and rough-around-the-edges (but charming) leading man, as well as some hard-hitting action set-pieces, among other things. However, do Mather and St. Leger successfully carry Besson’s concept across the finish line – delivering an entertaining sci-fi thriller that’s more than just the sum of its tried-and-true parts?

While it’s certainly not a flawless movie, or a deep exploration of character (as depicted in Taken), Lockout succeeds at being an over-the-top thriller with surprisingly high production values for a $20 million film that has to make room for a Guy Pearce paycheck. It’s not the most visually-stunning movie in the genre and definitely has a “budget” look at times; however, the project ultimately succeeds as a result of Pearce – who delivers an enjoyable, albeit snide, performance as government agent-turned-one-man-army, Snow.

Lockout Maggie Grace Guy Pearce Lockout Review

Maggie Grace and Guy Pearce in ‘Lockout’

As with some Besson-produced projects, the Lockout story is pretty basic. After a government operation goes awry, agent Snow (Guy Pearce) is taken into federal custody on suspicion that he double-crossed one of his closest friends (and, subsequently, compromised the security of the United States). After refusing to cave during a brutal interrogation at the hands of secret service agent Langral (Peter Stormare) and one of Snow’s handlers, Shaw (Lennie James), the agent is about to disappear into the federal prison system forever – until the President’s daughter, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), is taken hostage by inmates while visiting an enormous prison facility orbiting the Earth. Snow is given the option of rescuing the President’s daughter in exchange for his freedom, an offer Snow initially rejects, until he discovers that the key to clearing his name is also aboard the prison installation (which is rapidly plunging into inmate versus inmate pandemonium).

While the Lockout storyline gets the job done – presenting an intriguing sandbox for Pearce’s character to kick butt and fire off snarky one-liners – none of the characters in the film are anything but single-note caricatures. Some moviegoers will, no doubt, be unaffected by the lack of development, but compared to similar entries in the action-thriller genre, it’s not unfair to expect a more rewarding balance. That said, Snow is a likable leading man (thanks in part to Pearce’s approach to the role); however, the audience is only going to sympathize with him because of the way he’s presented in contrast to the rest of the story: he’s innocent, anti-establishment, and honorable (in spite of his rough exterior). The same can be said for the rest of the supporting cast – which is either going to be a sticking point for moviegoers hoping for something character-driven or a relief for viewers who would rather jump right into the action.

This dichotomy can be applied to how audiences will view other aspects of Lockout - as the story, despite a pretty robust sci-fi future, doesn’t bother with a lot of world-building and instead simply presents information (there’s a prison in space) without really exploring the film’s potentially intriguing universe.

Lockout Joseph Gilgun 570x349 Lockout Review

Joseph Gilgun as Hydell in ‘Lockout’

Every moment of the movie (both good and bad) relies heavily on familiarity with pre-existing action-thriller genre archetypes, sci-fi concepts, and staple good versus evil caricatures – without developing anything or anyone, once established. As a result, the characters (and story) aren’t likely to offer many surprises along the way – as the film merely follows the presented elements out to the most logical (albeit somewhat cliched) conclusions. Even the action, which is clearly the priority here, doesn’t showcase anything new and isn’t going to outright drop jaws. However, the combination of Pearce’s reaction to a lot of these moments of tension still makes for a pretty enjoyable one-two punch – even if the moments aren’t mind-blowing on their own.

Surprisingly, the film actually succeeds because of its heavy reliance on things audiences have seen before – since a lot of them are tried-and-true onscreen ideas. As an example, there’s nothing unique about Joseph Gilgun’s Hydell, an inmate responsible for most of the mayhem occurring in the prison, but he’s still one of the more enjoyable characters to watch. Similarly, even though the film fails to capture the scale of the facility and the sheer number of prisoners that are running around, the prison break in space set-up is intriguing enough – and presents an adequate foundation for some tense moments and modest-but-cool action sequences.

Lockout is not going to rival the explosive set-pieces audiences expect in Michael Bay summer blockbusters, but it succeeds at offering an exciting, if somewhat thin, adventure. While plot holes and one-note characters keep the film from being a clearcut must-see, for thriller fans looking for an enjoyable-but-brainless popcorn flick, Mather and St. Leger have delivered a (mostly) competent Luc Besson actioner – thanks, in large part, to an enjoyable performance from Guy Pearce.

If you’re still on the fence about Lockout, check out the trailer below:


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Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick - and let us know what you thought of the film below.

Lockout is rated PG-13 for for intense sequences of violence and action, and language including some sexual references. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

TAGS: Lockout
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  1. Shut up and take my money.

  2. Ben ya had me worried there. I was fearing a 0 or half star, i didn’t wanna have to break up with the site. Personally..I loved this, it was exactly what i wanted it to be (except for the insanely terrible effects during certain sequences). But yeah, could have been way worse. I ALREADY ADDED THIS TO MY WISH LIST ON AMAZON Y’ALL

    • Well I’m glad we stuck the landing and get to keep you around shacasha. I definitely enjoyed it but couldn’t rate it 5 stars – Lockout is fun but it’s no cinematic masterpiece ;) (not that it’s trying to be either).

      • Hey man, that’s all i ever wanted the world to realize. *Internet ‘I gotchu’ Nod*

  3. Is it better than Columbiana? Because that was probably Besson’s weakest film to date which was a shame because from the scenario and Zoe’s acting it looked like it’d be a hit.

    • It’s more entertaining than Columbiana (though, it’s not as ambitious either) – but keep in mind that Besson did not direct this one.

  4. Yeah, what’s up with the marketing for this film?

    I was intrigued by the trailer some time ago
    and until I saw your review, Ben, I did not
    even know this film had opened today.

    Great breakdown on what to expect.
    I usually like Guy Pearce so I will
    probably catch this one too.

    • sir, you have the coolest posts on here.

      that is all.

      • Very kind of you to say, jeffro.

      • Seconded.

        • And very kind of you to say too, Ben.

  5. WHAT?!?
    Snake Plissken in space better than anticipated?

  6. i was a little sceptical with this one, but everyone’s been sayings it basically a tribute (some say rip off) to old school action which is always good fun, plus the 5min intro clip showed that there is blood and easy to follow action (no shaky cam just a couple of quick cuts here and there).

    guy pierce both sounds and looks pretty hardcore in both this and promethius, he would make an epic wesker imo.

    a shame this comes out in like 3 months for austrlian’s as it will probably be available in dvd quality online (and they wonder why movies dont make as much).

    • He would make a great wesker , but know they pick shawn roberts possibly the cheesiest actor on the planet haha , loved lockout all reviewers are ripping it apart because its a rip off or that’s its full of crap , i loved it because of it , i hate the shaky cam crap hat costs 150 million to do (hunger games) as that was the most boring movie i have watched this year !!! All hail Guy a serially underrate actor!

  7. i will hopefully be getting this on dvd. probably wont be seeing it in theaters though

  8. Two words : “Space Prison” whoever wrote that utter rubbish needs his head caving in.

  9. I saw it today, thought it was a brilliant little sci fi actioner.

    I really enjoyed Guy Pierce and would happily sit through it again, even be up for a sequel.

    Sometimes I just want to watch stuff like this, it was fun, it did entertain what more do you need ?

  10. Went to see this with my fiancee yesterday. Read all the reviews first, which slated it completely, but just went with gut. Wasn’t dissapointed, Guy Pearce was brilliant, the two Scots prisoners were manic and hilarious. This film delivered exactly what it intended, never taking itself seriously, Snows character was superb, listing every one liner from every movie ever made and making it his own. The first five minutes set the scene. We both spend the entire movie laughing, which was the point. Go and see this, but remove you’re critical head first. I even enjoyed the dodgy cgi bike scene, I’m convinced this was intentional, to keep with the B-Movie style. More movies should be like this, after all the movie industry has several aims – aside from making money, to inform, to entertain, and this movie is designed to entertain. May go to see it again, but like another reviewer above, this one is definetly going on my Amazon list.

  11. I would give it 3 maybe 3.5 out of 5. Guy Pearce is definitely the selling point of this flick.

  12. Guy Pearce was great, the crazy guy was great; the movie…yeah, whatever….

  13. Hello guys, I just watched this movie yesterday in cinema. Unfortunately I could only get the german version which was pretty bad. That certainly destroyed some of the jokes. But it was still fun. The movie had some nice special effects and a nice dark look. The scenes in outer space looked really good in my opinion. I was just wandering why they only showed like 3 or 4 rooms of this enormous space prison. The characters make some weird decisions several times and it can’t compete with
    “Escape from New York”. Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace were nice, but it lacked a really good villain and I didn’t like the final battle a lot. But it is definitely worth a watch.

  14. The escape pod is the only way of the station…both of them escape by jumping out the station and falling to earth…really?

  15. I did not realize this film had been done on that low a budget and that is very low for a SciFi film these days. While LOCKOUT did not do great at the box office it took in 26 million Globally on a 20 milion budget and we know that its marketing budget was relatvely low therefore I’m sure this film will be in the black. When you add in post theatrical from rentals to sell-thru LOCKOUT is a scuessful film. It may not hve been the hit of the summer or even of the SPring (it did have a very crappy release date) but what it did do was prove that you can make a action flikc, a SciFi based one no less, and do it without spending a hundread million.

    As with PREDATORS 2 Summers before, LOCKOUT is another small budget flick that in many ways beat oute th bigger tentpole releases by not being a huge dissapointment. I persnally loved it and will most likely add it to my regulars list, my list of films I watch every 1-3 years.

  16. I LOVED this movie. Guy Pierce’s Snow was very cool, funny and sharp. Well done! I would love to see another adventure revolving around Snow. He’s just cool. Pierce, to me, almost looked unrecognizable as Snow. Snow was one of the coolest action Herod I’ve seen in a long time. Love to see a sequel!

  17. First watchable British action flick.