The very fine line between between plagiarism and homage is often the downfall of many a movie that aspired to be a cult classic. Often the distinction is whether you liked the movie or not. However, Lockout seems to straddle the fine line even with the borrowed template it’s lumbered with. Just think Escape from New York, except it’s the President's daughter this time around and our (anti)hero has to snatch her from the clutches of psychos on an orbiting space prison.
In spite of the odds stacked against it Lockout does indeed manage to deliver the goods. This is no small thanks to the cast. Guy Pearce is awesome playing out of type and scene stealing left, right and centre, as the wise-cracking-bad-ass, Snow. Maggie Grace doing more on-screen than the damsel in distress role requires, as the President’s Daughter Emily Warnock and Misfits’ Joseph Gilgun clearly having a whale of a time getting the right mix of it’s-wrong-to-laugh lunatic and damaged psycho - even if he doesn’t quite pull of menacing. The fact of the matter is they’re all just the right measured ingredients to make this Sci-Fi Action Cake and it wouldn’t be as much fun without them.
The movie works hard to keep everything fun and interesting. It’s clear that the film has a fraction of the budget of the lavish productions hitting our multiplexes, but sets the tone just right so you can laugh with it and not have it feel like it’s making excuses for itself. There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it highway chase that may look like a PS2 intro, but is filled it with enough touches and gusto you really don’t have the time to pick. The world and the prison itself is completely convincing while nodding to Bladerunner and Aliens.
Lockout does have it’s problems. There’s a few parts that are beyond hoakie, even with the casts best efforts and there’s a moment concerning a parachute where you can imagine someone hitting Ctrl-X on the avid accidentally leaving you scratching your head. But never mind all that; once you strap in and speed off – and this film does zoom along and end at around the 90min mark – it’s an absolute blast.
It may not manage the cult status of Escape from New York and the like, but there’s tonnes of fun crammed into this little gem and you’ll be wishing for LockedIn or LockOut with a Vengeance.
3* - Lockhard