Luc Besson’s creative efforts over the years have yielded mixed results. Switching Producer, Writer and Director hats for different projects, sometimes we get Taken’s or Wasabi’s, other times Hitman’s. So: Where does Lockout fall?
Guy Pearce is wise-cracking CIA Agent Snow, incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit by Uber-Spook Scott Langral (Peter Stormare). At the same time, the US president’s daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace) is on a diplomatic mission to MS One an orbital prison. Naturally, Emilie’s mission is cut short by a full scale prison riot. There’s only one man who can get her out-and that’s Snow.
Lockout’s brand of action is more ludicrous than cool. This is abundantly clear in the film’s opening sequence where character’s names are rendered onscreen and credits are revealed through punches to the face. You wouldn’t be wrong to compare and expect it to be tonally like the Rundown, a film that clotheslined its way into cult status. The problem is, we’re absolutely sure that that was the Rundown’s treatment. With Lockout, we’re left guessing.
Having two directors, it’s not hard to imagine one director vying for a straight up actioneer, while the other demanding parody. It may not be the case, but it sure felt that way. As the movie plays tug of war with itself, suspension of disbelief is all but non-existant. You are constantly left shaking you’re head, blinking repeatedly and asking ‘What?’ But it’s morbidly entertaining watching the film implode, and you’ll get a strange sense of enjoyment trying to decide if it was being intentional with the laughs or not. Because of this, you’ll be caught of guard with a lot of things: character motivations, scene beats that go on for too long, heck, even action setpieces. It’s a mixed bag as to whether you’re pleasantly or un-pleasantly surprised.
Part of the confusion comes from Guy Pearce’s Snow who, like any good wisecracking hero, doesn’t have any fucks left to give. Guy Pearce is an excellent actor, and perhaps too good, because it really felt like Snow didn’t give a shit about anything, including the movie he’s in. It’s hard not to look at the movie without a meta lens because the off-beat actioneers of this generation require it. Again, if the tone was established early on, I’d be praising this as a metatextual exercise of Duck Amuck calibre. This is in stark contrast with Peter Stormare who cartoons the shit out of his role as the asshole suit who runs the show. Like the movie, the cast is also tonally unbalanced. Not to say they aren’t good performances, it’s just feels like they belong in different movies. Except for the villains, who are laughably a non-presence in the grand scheme of things.
On the splodey front, Lockout fails to deliver anything exhilarating or fresh besides its opening credits and the climax. These two aren’t going to change the face of action cinema, but they are refreshing and left field enough to almost merit the price of admission. The Cg is sub-par and everything in between though is extremely middling.
I hate to say it, but I think we’re in Hitman territory here for Monsieur Besson; it’s not bad enough to be good or a cult classic, nor is it good enough to be just an enjoyable action flick. When the enjoyment you get is seeing the film battling itself rather than its characters each other, this isn’t cinema fare; it’s something you make fun of with your friends in living rooms.
PARA SA MGA TAMAD MAGABSA
Tonally unsound, but hilariously so. You won’t be enjoying because of the action, if you enjoy at all.