The movie is centered around a rogue agent named Snow (Guy Pearce) who’s been framed for a terrible murder. Coincidentally, the world’s first space prison has just undergone mutiny with the president’s daughter (Maggie Grace) on board, setting the scene for what on the surface looks like a typical action flick. Although the scene feels cliche` and the story feels like an excerpt from Star Wars fanfiction, I’ll give the movie props for taking it a lot further than that. There are a lot of explosions, but there’s also a lot of traumatic and disturbing content where the inmates will do something so despicable that you wonder how the movie got branded PG-13. It takes things a lot deeper than the Michael Bay “flashy lights make $$”, and really demonstrates some of the darker aspects of psychotic murderers that we might forget on a daily basis without seeing Lockout. For example, one inmate shanks his brother right through the chest while attempting to rape Emily, the president’s daughter. But that’s the tip of the iceberg, to keep things spoiler free.
While the darkness of the movie keeps things feeling relatively fresh (or pants-wettingly scary depending on your point of view), the writing is simply fantastic and the highlight of the entire ninety minute adventure. Snow makes a lot of clever wise cracks and all of the lead inmates know exactly what to say to make you cringe in your seat, which is something not a lot of movies do nowadays.
The writing wouldn’t mean scratch without good actors, and this movie doesn’t disappoint. Guy Pearce works with the set pieces he’s given, and does a good job sounding like the carefree bad-ass that he is. Maggie Grace runs the gamut from helpless damsel in distress to independent heroine fairly well, and even though I wasn’t as impressed with her performance she still deserves recognition.
Overall, Lockout should be taken with a pinch of salt (or five) before viewing due to the fact that it’s not what it advertises, being more sci-fi horror(ish) than it wants to admit. I recommend seeing it if you’re craving a witty dialogue ridden movie that is sure to make you squirm in your seat… a bit of an acquired taste, if I do say so myself.