Someone has been stealing government secrets, and agent Snow (Guy Pearce) has been sent on a mission to discover who it is, but he's had a spot of bother along the way. Bother such as someone murdering his contact who had handed over the briefcase containing the information about the traitor just as he expired, leaving Snow to evade capture in a high speed chase through Washington, only narrowly getting the case to his cohort Mace (Tim Plester) for him to hide it somewhere safe. But Snow himself was arrested, and is now being interrogated...
Lockout was one of those French action flicks devised by auteur of sorts Luc Besson, only this time it wasn't in the French language as the cast were an international selection many of whom were putting on different accents to the ones they were brought up with - but not French, funnily enough. As with quite a few of Besson's productions, he supplied the storyline here, and harkened back to a style of movie which had established the action genre as we know it today, back in the eighties, the main influence being not Fortress, the Christopher Lambert prison in space adventure, but the work of John Carpenter where he had cast Kurt Russell as his leading man.
So much so that Russell was apparently being emulated by Guy Pearce, or at least taking his Snake Plissken or Jack Burton roles and fashioning a hybrid from them - there was even a touch of The Thing in there. The result was Pearce as enjoyable to watch as he had been in years, displaying a sense of humour far too little exploited considering he had made his name on the big screen in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert about twenty years before. He wasn't camp here, however, simply undercutting any seriousness with a self-deprecating, and indeed story-deprecating charm all played with enough of a straight face to render it very funny, almost pushing the material over into an outright comedy.
Snow, who is reluctant to reveal his first name, winds up getting out of his prison sentence by agreeing to rocket off to space and a prison station there, where inmates are locked in stasis for years, sometimes decades as punishment. However, there is a pressure group headed by President's daughter Emily Warnock (Maggie Grace) who believe the situation is taken advantage of by unscrupulous officials, and that the stasis brings on a form of dementia, and she has flown up there to check this out. That's when the prisoners manage to break out thanks to Hydell (Shane Meadows regular Joseph Gilgun with a creditable Scottish accent) grabbing a gun and setting them free, including his equally dangerous brother Alex (Vincent Regan, also with the accent).
They don't know that among their hostages is a very important person, so Snow is dispatched to set her free before they twig, though he has another idea as his ally in the government, Harry Shaw (Lennie James), makes it known to him Mace is one of the jailbirds in the orbiting station. So can Snow save the girl and his friend, get the suitcase back and clear his name? What do you think? It was true our hero was never going to be less than capable even when things don't go his way, but Lockout wasn't about being unpredictable it was about delivering the thrills and laughs with seasoned ease, we were in the company of people who knew their way around this kind of entertainment so you could acknowledge they had the hang of it by now. Grace got to do something more than the girl to be rescued, a sleight of plot often implemented by Besson, with Regan and Gilgun having a rare old time as the baddies, but it was Pearce's movie and he supplied a man of action derivative yet amusing. Music by Alexandre Azaria.