April 27, 2013

Live-Tweeting LOCKOUT Gives Me A Hankering For Snake

 

"I'm being beaten up by a guy called Rupert?"

John Carpenter's Escape From New York is seven different kinds of awesome.

Escape From L.A. is slightly less so.

While there have been some recent attempts to remake the franchise (the latest idea is beyond dumb), Carpenter used to talk about a potential third film, Escape From Earth.  Apparently Luc Besson heard that title and got tired of waiting around, so he wrote and produced Lockout instead.  The fact that the story is credited to "an original idea by Luc Besson" is an insult to plagiarism, as the plot can be boiled down thusly:

Escape From LAEscape From New York X Outer Space = Lockout

I'm really not embellishing.  Set in the future, the President's daughter is taken hostage when the inmates take over an orbital cryo-prison and only one man WHO'S A LOOSE CANNON can bust in to save her.  Guy Pearce plays Snow, our non-cycloptic Plissken stand in.  He's a little less gruff and a lot more wise-cracking, but he has a monosyllabic name that starts with "SN" so...close enough.

The set design is uninspired, the effects are serviceable at best (awful at worst), and the characters are downright uninspired.  We've got one villain who confuses menace with dullness and another who's basically a cartoon, while the guys monitoring the situation from Earth are all basically paint by numbers.  Peter Stormare does his Stormariest but isn't really given anything worthy of his talents.  The great Lennie James is similarly wasted as a skinnier version of Al Powell from Die Hard, another movie that Lockout borrows from liberally, (But then again who hasn't cribbed Die Hard at this point?) while Maggie Grace slightly classes up a role that, on paper, alternates between flat and annoying.  The only real winner here is Guy Pearce, who looks more alive in a movie than I've seen him in years.  He lands so many great one liners in the first fifteen minutes that I was willing to stick with him for the next seventy five.  That may have been a miscalculation on my part.

In the end, Lockout isn't really bad so much as it is disappointing.  The beginning is genuinely entertaining, yet it somehow pulls off the miracle of getting less fun when it goes into space.  The only thing that somewhat differentiates this from Carpenter's movies is a subplot about Snow's backstory and a government cover-up that slowly goes nowhere.  If Lockout felt like an homage, a tribute to a bygone era, that would be one thing.  Instead it just comes across like Besson wanted to remake Snake Plissken but couldn't get the rights, so he changed the title and the main character's name by three letters and called it a night.  Oh well.

We'll always have New York.

Live-tweet rantings follow below:

































Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm gonna go find me some Plissken...

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Title: Lockout
Director: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Lennie James, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun
Year Of Release: 2012
Viewing Method: Netflix Instant (TV)