Sunday, December 29, 2013

Movie Review - Lockout

The 4th and mercifully, the last, of my end of the year sci fi marathon. Based on the Netflix description of this movie I was not expecting much, but the movie was actually enjoyable.
This story takes place somewhere in the near future, like around 2050. Guy Pierce is Snow, some sort of agent who gets set up for the killing of an army general. Snow is your quintessential action hero. Wise cracking, able to take multiple punches with hardly any effect, world weary and sarcastic. Virtually everything he says is a cliche but Pierce delivers each line perfectly. He's been in a lot of movies but I mostly know him from "Momento".

Maggie Grace is Emilie Warnock, the US President's daughter. She is visiting the high security prison known as MS-1, in orbit. She has come to investigate allegations at the prison is using the prisoners as test subjects to learn the effects of long term space flight. I spent the whole movie trying to figure out where I'd seen Grace before. She was a major character in "Lost".

The prisoners are kept in some sort of suspended animation. The warden decides to wake up a prisoner so she can interview him. Here is where the movie starts to take one of several ridiculous turns. Three things happen, which if any one of them didn't happen, the whole story wouldn't happen. First, even though the prison warden is trying to impress Ms Warnock, with what a marvelous place MS-1 is, he picks perhaps the most violent, psychotic prisoner he has for the interview. Second, Ms Warnock of course has come to MS-1 with her own Secret Service Agents to protect her. Also for her protection, the interview is conducted through glass, the prisoner one one side, her on the other. But for some reason, they place two of her Agents on the same side of the glass as the prisoner, with the stipulation that no weapons are carried by the agents. Third, one of the agents decides to strap a gun around his ankle anyway. When a confrontation breaks out between the gun-toting agent and the prisoner, the prisoner ends up with the gun and shoots himself to freedom.

Eventually, he gets to the control room and lets all the prisoners free.

On the LOPS (Low Orbit Police Station) are lots of space fighter planes and several are dispatched. They are driven away by the computer controlled cannons mounted on MS-1. Why there is an LOPS and why MS-1 is provided with such powerful protection is never explained.

Back on Earth, Snow has been convicted without a trial and sentenced to MS-1. Why no trial? The President's Security Chief explains "You lost your Constitutional rights when you killed the general". With a crisis on MS-1, they offer Snow an opportunity for freedom if he'll board the station and free Ms. Warnock. He reluctantly agrees.

If you've seen a few action movies you can pretty much write your own script for the rest of the movie. Everything you might expect to happens, happens. Snow gets on the station, when he first finds Emilie, she thinks he's a bad guy and clocks him with a fire extinguisher. Most of the dialog between them comes directly from Hans Solo/Princess Leia. She hates him, he hates her but he's got a job to do, as cynically as possible. Meanwhile, lots of running around with armed prisoners chasing them. Things blow up, guys in orange jumpsuits get shot and the originally released prisoner gets more and more crazy, killing control center crew members until finally, MS-1's orbit begins to degrade.

Above the objections of the President, MS-1 has to be destroyed because it's going to land somewhere on the East Coast of the US. Waves of fighters are sent and the scene from Star Wars where Luke delivers the fatal blow to the Death Star is played out.

Snow and Emilie have found some space suits and leap out of the station just before it blows up. They fall to Earth, shedding the spacesuits on the way. Luckily, Snow is wearing a parachute (really?) and glides them to the ground where they land on a freeway exit lane. The police arrive before they get run over, and Snow is immediately arrested.  Of course, he is let go, he and Emilie walk off into the sunrise exchanging wise cracks.

Although there was enough stupid stuff in this movie for pages of rants, I enjoyed the movie. The movie doesn't have an original thought anywhere but the director does a great job. The action scenes are well done. Special effects are good enough. Pierce and Grace are perfect together. If you run across this on Netflix, go ahead and watch it.

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