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By MARK TURNER
When I saw the trailer for LOCKOUT before it hit theaters I thought it looked interesting but not enough for me to shell out the $8 for a matinee ticket. Actually, there are few movies these days that make me feel that way.
So I'm happy to report that the movie, just released on DVD, is well worth that $8 and more. No, it's not LAWRENCE OF ARABIA but it does offer plenty of entertainment for your money.
The year is 2079 and Guy Pearce is Snow, an ex-CIA agent caught in a trap where an old friend was killed but not before passing him a briefcase. Snow escapes with the briefcase but only enough time to pass it on to his friend Mace. Caught by the new agent in charge Scott Langrel (Peter Stormare), Snow is unwilling to give up any information and quickly sentenced to 30 years in stasis (frozen) on the newest prison rotating in space above the Earth.
Before he can get there, though, things happen. Emilie Wornock (Maggie Grace), the daughter of the President, is at the space station looking things over to make sure there are no civil rights violations going on. The group she works with is looking into illegal activity taking place there, experimentation on the inmates. To interview one he must be "thawed" as all prisoners are encapsulated in their cells. During this interview he takes a gun from the Secret Service man assigned to Emilie (that he snuck in) and begins to set free all the prisoners.
A rescue mission is set up to save the President's daughter but her chances of survival are slim. In steps Harry Shaw (Lennie James), a friend of Snow's who's been trying to help him and get information from him. He suggests that Snow is the only person alive who can be snuck onto the orbiting station and rescue Emilie without harm. Put in place as a back up plan the first attempt to rescue her fails and he heads in.
Via a tracking chip on Emilie Snow is directed to her location and tries to save her but it thwarted by her Secret Service agent. He gets around this eventually and tries to help her. While this is going on one of the worst prisoners, Alex (Vincent Regan) takes charge and sets about negotiating with those in charge for her release. Alongside him is his brother Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), a totally mad screw up who finds more pleasure in killing people than negotiations. These two along with some of the most deadly men to ever walk the Earth are now searching for Snow and Emilie with one purpose in mind: escape.
If that wasn't enough plot for you consider this extra. Mace is now imprisoned on the space prison too. Snow needs to find the briefcase he entrusted to him before he was caught to take down the bad guys that framed him and killed his friend. All he has to do is find him among the 500 or so insane criminals now set free while saving the President's daughter at the same time.
Many of the ideas found in this movie could have resulted in a truly bad low Z grade movie. But the cast, crew and writers up the ante and make it more fun than you would think possible. With the exception of a not too realistic CGI motorcycle chase, the effects are top notch. Everything from explosions to space situations seem real.
The thing that makes this work more than anything though is the acting by Pearce and Grace in their roles. Snow is a smart aleck, self assured, one man force who has the ability to save the seemingly pampered President's daughter. Emilie is the naive young woman who thinks she knows what's going on but clearly has no clue. When you couple the two together they both learn something, though Snow seems more in line to teach than learn.
The pacing is fast and furious and shot fantastically so that you catch it all on the screen. The concept of a rescue mission is well thought out even if the plans to make it happen fall apart over and over again. This movie is pure popcorn flick of the week and takes you on a ride that delivers on all accounts. I've always said that the first purpose of a movie should be to entertain. With this film I found myself knowing I could watch it a second time and enjoy it again, making it a film worth seeing.
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