Where’s the Riot?

The television spots for Lockout advertise “the biggest prison riot in history,” but watching the movie about the escape of nearly 500 prison inmates, one has to wonder: where are they?  Trapped on an orbiting space prison, our wise-cracking hero and tough-talking damsel in distress sure spend a lot of time hanging out in abandoned corridors, considering there are supposedly hundreds of crazed inmates wandering around.  To focus on details like this will only drive a person insane while watching this new movie from the creators of Taken, but if you don’t fret the details, you might find yourself having some fun.

Our hero is Snow, a former CIA operative who opens the movie by cracking wise about a guy’s wife, even as that guy is putting a beating on Snow during an interrogation.  An operation has gone terribly wrong and Snow has been pinpointed as the bad guy, accused of murdering a veteran agent, and sentenced to cryogenic imprisonment aboard the orbiting prison.

Meanwhile, the daughter of the president is aboard that prison, interviewing an inmate, when all hell breaks loose.  One secret service agent makes a mistake and next thing you know, all of the inmates are being aroused from their cryogenic slumber.  Not wanting to send an all-out assault with his daughter on board, the president authorizes Snow to go in and rescue her.  Snow initially resists, but when it becomes clear that the key to clearing his name is aboard that prison, he reluctantly takes on the job.

Guy Pearce as Snow in LockoutGuy Pearce plays Snow.  The actor, not really known for playing the action hero, actually fits quite well into the role.  One thing is for sure, he has definitely mastered the art of the witty one-liner.  For this reason, he is by far the best thing about the movie.  Still, there is something to the theory that “less is more” and when every single line is a wisecrack, it can get rather tiresome, even while we enjoy the dialogue.  Once again playing the kidnapped daughter, Maggie Grace has more to do here than she did in Taken, but she is still well overshadowed by her rescuer.

The action in Lockout is mediocre at best.  There is an insanely fast chase scene at the beginning that might look cool, if it weren’t moving by so fast that it is literally a blur.  Most of the action on the prison is limited to one-on-one fistfights, but even the one that takes place in zero gravity proved not to be very memorable.

Although we are told that nearly 500 prisoners were released from their cryogenic imprisonment, the movie quickly focuses in on about ten of them, including two Scottish brothers who serve as the ringleaders.  It is never really explained why the other inmates so quickly lineup behind these two or why the other 490 or so prisoners seem perfectly content to hang around what essentially amounts to the prison yard, when they should be looking for a way out.

In addition to questions about the prisoners, one has to wonder how there have been no advances in cell phone technology between 2012 and 2079, if people would really still be naming their kids after John Wayne that far from now, and why health warnings still haven’t stopped everyone from smoking by then.  That last question actually ends up inspiring one of film’s best lines, but the rest of those questions just have to be ignored if you are going to enjoy Lockout, an action movie that is essentially just filling out the release calendar while we wait for the summer blockbusters.

Lockout is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of violence and action, and language including some sexual references.”  This movie could have easily gotten an R-rating, if not for the camera panning or cutting away at specific moments.  The filmmakers were obviously looking to get the teen audience.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Lockout.