Saturday, April 21, 2012
I recently saw "The Cabin in the Woods", an amazing horror comedy movie that you need to see right this very second. However, before I can have fun and review that movie, I have to struggle and suffer in reviewing "Lockout", a really mediocre and forgettable action movie. Will there come a day when I sit my brighteyed grandson on my knee and tell him of the days before the Machines enslaved humanity, back when I was in college and went to see "Lockout" alone? No. Because I probably won't even remember this movie existed tomorrow, let alone after the Cyborg Wars of 2020s. Once seen the once-great cities of man destroyed by roving metal armies, you kinda lose interest in the stupid action movies of your twenties.
The Hell of it is, that "Lockout" could have been a simple fun action movie. In fact, its just about 80% a good movie. I respect the idea behind "Lockout", even if nobody else does. The plot is almost verbatim the same as "Escape From Los Angeles" only taking place on a prison in outer space. The loose cannon wise-cracking antihero character has to land into a den of crazy prisoners to rescue the President's Daughter. Yeah, its a rip-off, but what the heck do I care? Those movies were awesome! We need more Eighties in modern movies. Also, I have to respect any movie whose advertising campaign completely unironically uses the phrase "loose cannon" and isn't trying to be a smartass satire. Unfortunately "Escape From New York" and its sequel were directed by John Carpenter, who is just amazing, and those movies weren't edited down to a PG-13. But that's only the beginning of "Lockout"'s problems. This movie might just have the worst editing I've ever seen in any movie, not just the ridiculous removal of gore.
"Lockout" is sloppy. It just feels poorly timed, like its almost there but never quites comes together. Its like building a table but not having any idea how to use a screw gun. So you buy the right wood, the right screws, you got the right tools, only you never actually managed to get any of the pieces connected right. You screw one corner in at an angle, and you split the wood in another spot, and you never measured anything so one leg is too long. So as soon as you put a book down on that table, it falls apart. Just like this movie did.
I guess its not a total loss. I guess if one of these days you're channel surfing and need to watch a SciFi action movie starring Guy Pearce, "Lockout" is still a SciFi action movie starring Guy Pearce. Honestly though, I'd rather watch "The Time Machine" over this, because at least there you have some creative imagery. I guess a movie that borrows its premise from John Carpenter movies was never going to be particularly creative, but still they could have done better than this. Most of the sets are basically just space hallways, the whole movie is blue and orange tinted for some reason, and even the action isn't all that crisp.
The plot too somehow got needlessly complicated and ridiculous somehow. I don't know what was so hard about this plot: "mutiny on space prison, Guy Pearce has to save President's Daughter". Apparently that wasn't enough to work with so there's this totally redundant espionage plotline where Guy Pearce is accused of killing some guy who is selling secrets to somebody and somebody is a traitor. Who cares? Does any of that have to do with space criminals? No! So it shouldn't be in the movie. And I'm not kidding, all the intrigue is to open a metal suitcase, and that's really as much motivation as you're going to get. They want the suitcase open. I don't know if the suitcase was supposed to contain anything of importance, because I sure as fuck never learned what any of that plot was about. Just make it launch codes, or the plans to the Death Star, or naked pictures of Eric Holder, something. Instead it was about nothing.
As it turns out, Guy Pearce has a buddy on the space prison who knows where the suitcase is. I'm not sure how his buddy manages to get to the space prison so fast, he just gets launched there in five minutes. Well, since all the prisoners are frozen, they go crazy... or maybe they're lobotomized, its entirely not clear. So Guy Pearce and the President's Daughter find this guy, and has gone batshit insane. Now, you can handle dementia one of two ways: you can either realistically show the heartbreaking results of a persona trapped in a failing mind, or have the actor clown around in front of the camera and act like a jackass for laughs. Well, "Lockout" did the latter, and... wow. You will not believe how bad this gets with this character. I'm not sure if he supposed to be an annoying comic relief, but he sure as Hell became one.
The characters aren't very good either. I liked Guy Pearce the best if only because he was able to just spend the whole movie being obnoxious to the entire universe and make wise cracks. His character doesn't give a shit. But even so, the President's Daughter falls in love with him at the end as is demanded by cookie-cutter action law. I find that hard to believe, considering his personality appears to be entirely repulsive to everybody. The only person Guy Pearce shows affection to his is his batshit buddy, I thought his character might have been gay until the final kiss. Also, the President's Daughter has an unnamed female friend who she takes with her on the spaceship, what was their relationship? The villains are mainly this brother team of Irish terrorists. One is basically Johnny Knoxville, and the other is actually intelligent, but totally unable to control his lunatic brother. These two are never very scary. In fact, there's no tension at all in this whole movie. If you're going to watch "Lockout", prepare for boredom.
I guess the action scenes in this movie didn't stand a chance compared to "The Raid", but really, they could have at least tried to be competent.
Did I mention that the action scenes aren't very good? Because they aren't. They just happen so fast, you can't even figure out what's going on. At the beginning of this movie, Guy Pearce jumps on a motorcycle, and gets chased by cop cars, and I swear to God that somebody was fastforwarding the movie during that scene. It was over in exactly fifteen seconds. At the end of the movie, the heroes jump out of the space station and parachute to Earth. This happens so fast that you never get any sense of height or drama or anything, its over in seconds.
Somewhere in here there was a decent movie to be made. Unfortunately, that's not the movie I saw. You probably could go back and use the master footage to edit together a new movie that's actually watchable and isn't boring as Hell. But that's not going to happen. So that's that, a disappointment.
Luckily however, according to the coming attractions, there are like fifty movies this summer that I need to see: "Looper", "Chernobyl Diaries", "The Avengers", "Prometheus", "The Bourne Legacy", "Brave", and of course... "BATMAN 3"!!!