In space, no-one need see this tripe

Remember to bust out the fine wine, because you’re going to need something tasty to go with this hunk of cheese.

Lockout is the latest of Luc Besson’s Europa Corp productions. He came up with the concept, but didn’t bother to direct it himself, handing it over to newcomers James Mather and Stephen St Leger. That was a good call on Besson’s part.

Snow (Pearce) gets caught up in the middle of CIA espionage and framed for murder. He’s about to be sent up to space prison. Meanwhile, the goody-two shoes daughter of the president decides to visit the prison space station, where (of course) the prisoners take over and take her hostage. In light of recent events, there’s a change of plans and Snow is sent up to the station to rescue Emilie.

Why are we never prepared for the worst-case scenario? At the very least, the film offers guidance for what not to do in the event that we ever create and need a space prison.

And what ever happened to character complexity?  Our cheeky protagonist is truly the king of smart aleck replies. But he just lets the insults and the punches roll off like he’s too cool for school.  This film tries to be so bad it’s good, but fails. So it ends up in a strange limbo place that’s pleasant enough, yet unsatisfying.

This story also feels all too familiar. For those fans of campy ‘80s action movies starring Kurt Russell, you may recall the film Escape from New York; the plot is very similar, except before it was the president who was hostage and New York the prison. The dark humour of the not-that-great original has been washed away and we’re left with an even worse sanitised version.

It’s easy to miss the good old days of Besson when he directed films like Leon and The Fifth Element. And quite frankly, it’s been a sad career trajectory for Guy Pearce if this is where he’s ended up. The Kurt Russell era of action movies was over or so we hoped.


Lockout (15)

Dir: James Mather & Stephen St Leger;

Fra sci-fi/action, 2012, 95 mins; Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare

Premiered June 21
Playing nationwide