Flawed movies usually make people look at all of the individual pieces more closely, trying to figure out why it isn’t quite working. Though Luc Besson’s “Die Hard”-in-a-space-prison movie “Lockout” does eventually manage to gel, the movie’s long, disjointed opening half leaves plenty of time to stare at all the different moving parts.
• My personal theory: “Lockout” isn’t really an action movie. It’s a romantic comedy/drama set during a violent riot on a space prison. The action elements aren’t particularly good – the fights are short, relatively uninteresting, and generally end with a gunshot – but the witty sniping between the two leads is actually pretty good. Make of this what you will.
• Guy Pearce, generally known for rather serious roles in movies like “Memento” and “L.A. Confidential,” is the latest unconventional action-lead choice by directors desperate to find the next Bruce Willis before the first one dies. He’s got a great way with a one-liner and looks respectable punching people, but we’ll need a better movie to see if he can really shine.
• Maggie Grace’s character, who will hereafter be dubbed “Tess Trueheart,” gets far more interesting as soon as Guy Pearce’s character is around to exasperate her. It’s not a coincidence that this is also when the movie starts to get more interesting.
• Being a psychotic can only take a bad guy so far, but they also need some plotting skills if you want to keep the audience interested for long. Joseph Gilgun does insanity beautifully, but he can’t even keep a rational thought in his head. Vincent Regan is oddly sympathetic as the brains of the operation, but not even vaguely scary. He spends the entire movie looking like he would give anything to be in a pub somewhere.
• Apparently, something terrible happened to the National Mall in Washington D.C. The Oval Office is now deep in a bunker, and if you look around I’m pretty sure it’s also the new home of the head from the Lincoln Memorial jabbed onto the tip from the Washington Memorial. The poor tourists.
• There’s actually a pretty good twist at the end. The only clue I’ll give you is that it has nothing to do with space.
• For all the griping we all do about Michael Bay’s computer-bonanza action scenes, he does take the consideration to throw at least a few real things into the background. “Lockout” offered the first completely computer-generated chase scene I’ve ever seen, and it looked like someone pulled it directly out of a video game.
• The movie’s definition of dementia is giving an actor an excuse to act like Rain Man on drugs. To anyone who actually knows someone suffering with dementia, I apologize on behalf of the movie.
• When they start talking about shoving a needle into someone’s eye, just shut yours. Trust me on this. The cue to open your eyes again is when Pearce’s character says the word “lambada.”
• I’ll also apologize to the crew of a future version of the International Space Station. Whoever was driving the prison really should have at least left a note on your windshield.