Even Hammy Guy Pearce Can’t Save ‘Lockout’ From All That Posing

Guy Pearce in "Lockout."

Although I am the unofficial Official Least Picky Eater, nobody’s perfect. There are things I could do without, some not even edible: sweet pickles, phone use during movies, whenever Steve Inskeep talks through frogs in his throat. These are all things that, if they disappeared tomorrow morning, would never enter my brain again, lest they catch me offguard during some terrible fever dream.

But even worse than any of that stuff? Posers.

Man, I hate me some posers. I’m looking at you, Lockout. It’s one thing to openly aim for that “B movie” feel (see Drive Angry or Planet Terror for good examples). It’s quite another to fail at hitting a pretty sizable target, and in that regard, Lockout may be legally blind.

Guy Pearce deserves admiration for a strong effort as Agent Snow, a CIA operative framed for a crime he didn’t… you know what, screw it. Pearce delivers Lockout’s generic premise as bluntly and briskly as possible, but no one man could ever distract enough attention away from the contrivances. There are unexpected but totally expected double-crosses and an early prison break in the film’s “space jail” setting. All of this plays against the backdrop of low-grade CGI, with explosions that belong in Call of Duty and motorcycle chases that don’t belong anywhere. The warning signs of green screen are everywhere in Lockout, but it wants you to pay no attention to the animators behind the curtain.

Of course, one can’t have a “Space Jail” movie without some Con Air seeping in there, and Luc Besson and co-directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger were smart in trying to riff on their predecessors. This doesn’t aim to be a heady sci-fi romp like Inception or even Prometheus. The absence of subtext isn’t a problem, but the shiny homages to space fantasy shlock feel more like crutches for bad filmmaking, a step above “The Room In Space,” but only a step. Lockout is hardly coy about copying its predecessors, but it’s even worse at hiding that fact.

It borrows from Hollywood’s ongoing teal/orange epidemic and rivals JJ Abrams in crushing on gratuitous lens flares. Even Maggie Grace as President Warnock’s intrepid daughter is sorta retreading the “unlikely action lackey” from Taken 2, and a quick cut and dye job ain’t gonna change that.

Lockout’s glossed-up entertainment has no nutritional value, but it doesn’t even taste good. It’s a stale bag of tootsie rolls, and not the good kind. The weird blue ones.