Snake Plissken could kick Snow’s ass, and sure as hell look cooler doing it.
Lockout is a wannabe, there are hints of cool and bad-assery, but it just comes across as too smug in it’s perceived hipness.
Now, there were a couple things right at the beginning that I really liked, including the opening interrogation scene.
I like Guy Pearce, I think he’s a great actor as both Memento and L.A. Confidential illustrate.
I was also happy to see that Luc Besson was involved in the story and served as producer. He directed Leon: The Professional, Fifth Element, and was involved in the stories for The Transporter series (an admittedly guilty pleasure for me), Taken, and District 13.
Then the director’s credit came up. James Mather AND Stephen St. Leger. Two directors? Never a good sign in a live action film. (Yes there are the occasional exceptions – but not this time).
In a character that is a lesser version of Snake Plissken, (he is almost outfitted with the same type of gear, including a timer/map on his wrist) Guy Pearce plays Snow, an ex-CIA operative, who after a deal goes bad, loses his friend and a case carrying state secrets, and is arrested for murder, after a poorly put together chase scene filled with jerky camera work to hide some shoddy CG work.
Meanwhile, we learn that the President’s daughter, Emilie (played by Maggie Grace from Lost and Taken) is paying a humanitarian visit to the world’s first orbital Maximum Security prison, MS-1 which houses 500 inmates in stasis. She’s going to make sure that the prisoners are being treated humanely and that there are no adverse reactions to being kept in stasis for extended periods of time.
Then, in a truly moronic move, one of the secret service agents assigned to protect her, enters a holding area to watch over Emilie and the prisoner she’s interviewing, still armed. This is despite the fact that he’s told, blatantly, not to have weapons on the prisoner’s side of the room.
Things go sideways… as they do and Emilie is stuck in a floating prison with 500 reanimated inmates.
Snow is tapped to go in, after some coercing, and the revelation that his missing friend, Mace, is incarcerated in MS-1 as well.
Fisticuffs, explosions, and the occasionally good one-liner, and a slew of poor ones follow.
Snow is almost too glib and full of himself. It’s like the writers and directors tried to think of all the coolest things they could make Guy Pearce say, and then of course he says them all, not some, not one or two, but all of them, so instead of coming across as uber-cool, Snow almost comes across as someone trying to be cool. Less is more.
Snake, his fore bearer tends to keep his mouth shut, and only speaks when necessary, and his snide remarks come from the fact that he truly doesn’t care. He is an anti-hero, Snow just comes off as a wannabe.
Which is too bad, cause there are hints of coolness like I said (the gun and apple line is pretty sweet).
The concept is cool (albeit very familiar), and would’ve been a perfect vehicle for Kurt Russell and John Carpenter to bring Snake to the big screen again, or re-launch the character with a new actor in the role – with a lot of dialogue changes.
The Low Orbital Police Department (Really? A police department? In space?) serves as the operations base of Snow’s overseers, guiding him on his mission inside the prison. They also launch a pretty good looking attack run on the prison in the last act of the film.
There’s also a great deal of something else missing from the film… science. In this world, people apparently freeze immediately when exposed to space, but don’t suffer from explosive depressurization and get blown out into space. Weird.
And apparently, if you jump off a space station, despite the fact you are in high orbit, you still fall, as opposed to float away. Just putting that out there.
I also have to say, that in the revealing of Snow’s first name… let me just say to avoid spoilers, I’m gonna make a movie reference from the 80s. If the same name didn’t work for Stallone’s Cobra, what makes you think it’s going to be funny for Guy Pearce’s Snow?
Then there’s the inmates. I don’t think there’s a single scene where they tell us the names of the lead inmates, we just know they have bad attitudes and thick accents, and the rest of them, all 500, are simply interchangeable baddies and cannon fodder.
With a little more thought paid to story, pulling back on some of the dialogue, and maybe a little bit more in the way of memorable characters, this could’ve been a great ride.
They also end up going for the Hollywood ending, all happy and shiny.
Snake certainly wouldn’t have done that.
Now, I get that Snow isn’t Snake, but the similarities between the two are plentiful running the gamut from story to characters, it feels more like a poor-man’s big budget ripoff than an homage, let alone original idea.
Honestly, I think Guy Pearce would make a pretty cool Snake Plissken should the series ever get relaunched, but Snow, should probably just be forgotten.
Which is something I’m going to try to do with Lockout now that I’ve vented…