'Lockout': Action thriller set in space

Washington, D.C., 2079, and some guy in an interrogation room is getting his clock punched. Actually, he's not just some guy, he's ex-CIA agent Snow - Guy Pearce, doing his best Bogart tough-guy act, spitting out snappy one-liners every time he gets whomped.

But Snow isn't long for D.C., or even long for planet Earth. In Lockout, a breakneck B-movie that borrows from Blade Runner, Die Hard, and Escape from New York (to name a few), our abs-flexing hero has been framed for the murder of his ex-partner. He's sentenced to 30 years of "stasis" - deep sleep - on MS One, a maximum security penitentiary floating in space.

But as luck would have it - bad luck, good luck, take your pick - the First Daughter, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), is also on MS One, on a humanitarian mission to see how the prison station is treating its guests. One of the convicts - a tattooed, toothless psycho (Joseph Gilgun) - is awakened from his beauty sleep to be interviewed by Emilie. Next thing you know, he has a gun, he has the girl, and he has his finger on the button that lets loose every prisoner in the place.

And so, Snow is dispatched to MS One - not to do time, but to rescue the president's daughter. And to crack wise within an inch of his life. 

Lockout hails from French film wizard Luc Besson (he cowrote the screenplay and produces) and director newbies Stephen Saint Leger and James Mather, a pair of Irish lads who came to Besson's attention via a series of action-packed shorts (including one about an agent on the hunt for a fugitive in a military prison). The duo deploy big clanking sets and a modest arsenal of computer visual effects to evoke a cold, cruel, orbiting jail.

Lockout is genre all the way. The film wears its colors proudly, but it also, alas, wears out its welcome. Pearce maintains an amusingly imperturbable attitude throughout, while Grace - the object of Liam Neeson's rescuing in Taken - does her best to project feisty independence in the damsel-in-distress role. Gilgun is so over-the-top violent and virulent that he ceases to be menacing, Vincent Regan plays his more sensible sibling, a nonetheless malevolent force, and various thugs and mugs run amok.

Momentum-wise, the action rocks on, but near the midway mark a kind of creative fatigue sets in - not that things were terribly creative to begin with.

Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies.



Directed by James Mather, Stephen St. Leger. With Nick Hardin, Lennie James, Patrick Cauderlier, Peter Stormare, Maggie Grace, Yan Dron, Tim Plester, Vincent Regan, Guy Pearce, Mark Tankersley. Distributed by FilmDistrict.

Running time: 1 hours, 50 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and language including some sexual references.).