Mutiny and Monotony

Audiences should block out Lockout

Deep space isn’t big enough to contain Guy Pearce, his impudent lock-jawed smirk and the deliriously cruddy Lockout, set in 2079, a time when Zippo lighters will still be used with impunity, because who doesn’t like that snappy click they make when you flick the lid open or shut?

Pearce plays Snow, an ex-CIA operative strong-armed into a trip to a space station prison where 500 of Earth’s most vile criminals are doing time in “stasis,” or an artificially induced form of deep sleep. The aftereffects of stasis include dementia and psychosis. The aftereffects of watching Lockout include an inability to focus or to complete a simple declarative sentence without an ill-timed cutaway in the middle.

Snow is forced to travel to MS One because there’s a mutiny on board, and the convicts are running around killing people, and the president’s daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), is up there on a fact-finding mission and needs rescuing.

Filmed in Serbia by the Irish team of James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, Lockout features a great deal of point-blank handgun killings, with the moments of impact elided just enough to retain a dubious PG-13 rating. Fantastic. The documentary Bully gets slapped initially with an R rating before wheedling its way down to a PG-13 after trimming three bad words, and this thing has no problem securing a PG-13?

The leaders of the prison mutiny are a couple of ruthless Scots played by Vincent Regan and Joe “Travis Bickle, Glasgow Division” Gilgun. This being a Luc Besson production, the simplicity of the story concept (from, as the credits say, “an original idea by Luc Besson”—well, an idea, anyway) guides the show.

The pacing is relentless and monotonous. The editing by Eamonn Power and Camille Delamarre appears to have been handled while running from one gate to another in an airport somewhere. Half the time you don’t know how a character got where he’s supposed to be; a quick shot of Snow hanging on to the outside of the space station comes out of nowhere, and then three more people get shot in the head.

The climactic space-jump ending in a drab section of urban freeway somewhere in Serbia is so spatially and rhythmically off, it’s as if the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys paid Besson to shoot the sequence that way for heckling purposes.

Lockout (PG-13) ★☆☆☆☆

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