Lockout is a product of outright laziness. There is nothing new here, nothing unique, and nothing to recommend. Aside from a few good jokes from our hero, Snow (Guy Pearce), the film has nothing going for it. The plot is stock beyond belief, the dialogue is groan-inducing, and the action editing is some of the worst in years. What is technically a good idea on paper, a prison break in space, is spoiled with extremely lousy and inept filmmaking.
Snow has been set up. He is convicted of a crime he did not commit and is on the way himself to the maximum security space prison known as MS-1. Coincidentally, the President’s daughter, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), is on a fact finding mission to MS-1 when an inattentive security guard sets in motion an impossible chain of events which ends up with all of the prisoners woken up from stasis, released from their cells, very quickly in control of an immense prison complex, and the captors of the First Daughter.
If only there were one man, a loose cannon if you will, who the government could send on what would basically be a suicide mission to save the girl. Whoa, you mean there is such a guy? Let me guess; is it Snow armed with his chiseled abs and snappy one-liners? Quickly blasted off into space, only Snow can somehow break into an impenetrable prison, find the girl, escape with the girl, and somehow keep all of these violent and psychotic criminals aboard their floating prison which also seems to now be crashing towards the eastern seaboard.
There is a sub-plot where Snow is trying to clear his name but that is just a side note in what is a one man versus many scenario. It is good to see Guy Pearce again in an action film and leading role. Long ago are the days of The Proposition, Memento, and The Time Machine. Unfortunately, for the leading lady they picked Maggie Grace, best known as one of the most annoying characters from the Lost series. Another character actor you may recognize from Prison Break is Peter Stormare who provides his usual menacing one-note skill set.
The target audience here of male action fans will be disappointed by the amateur chase and fight scenes. An early chase scene is reminiscent of Ultraviolet (2006). Remember that horrible film and its horrendous chase scenes which looked like they were done on a computer pre-dating Tron? There is a very similar choppy computer feeling here and you almost expect to see the green screen behind the actors pop into view.
Lockout did not have to be this bad. The idea of a prison break in space, in the right hands, could have been a quality action film with a juicy story and evil bad guys. Here, the bad guys are cartoon characters, the filmmaking is cheap and shoddy, and the film is just a complete mess. Go see The Raid: Redemption instead for your action fix.