Original Title: MS One: Maximum Security
Director: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Writer: Luc Besson, James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Peter Stormare
Country: France, USA
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 95 minutes
Genre: Thriller, Action, Sci-Fi
USA Release: 4/13/2012
On DVD (USA): 7/17/2012
Luc Besson is back with another B-movie styled adventure but this time around we are back in space. Besson best known for “The Fifth Element”, “La Femme Nikita”, “Leon: The Professional”, “Taken” and “The Transporter” series has over the years given us great characters to root for as they kick the butts of everyone that gets in their way. This time though he seems to be taking some story ideas from another film in this lull between “Taken” movies.
While out on a humanitarian mission the President’s daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace) visits MS One a prison located in space. This is the ultimate prison as everyone there is in stasis, so there are no riots or fighting among prisoners. But while she is there conducting an interview with one of the prisoners Hydell (Joseph Gilgun) to find out how the condition are for them, he escapes and begins to release all of the prisoners from their stasis and soon the ship is taken over. Back on Earth in Washington D.C. a government agent named Snow (Guy Pearce) is being integrated as to what happened on his last mission which resulted in another agent dying. Unable to prove his innocence without the briefcase he lost Snow will become a prisoner on MS One unless he can rescue the President’s daughter from her crazy kidnappers.
Now before I get into talking about this movie be advised that this is of course not something that many people will be interested in seeing, I mean just look at how much it’s made so far ($11.9 million in 12 days). Anyways this is one of the movie that will become an equivalent of a cult classic (or a Cheese-tastic Classic as Fog’s Movie Review puts it). And it is just that, I can’t even fake defend that it isn’t, but what it is, is fun. It’s one of those movies you just see to see. You can’t really pick it apart or fully analyze it because it’s just not really worth the time. But anyways I’ll review this but believe me if I really broke this movie down the way I do others it would be a really low score like you have or will see on other blogs or review sites.
Anyways while this is shot like your typical B-movie having all the action do the talking I thought that directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger didn’t do too bad of a job. They kept the production as tight as possible having it only be just over an hour and a half long. However one of the biggest flaws within their directing is the CGI used, around the 5 to 7 minute mark you will probably find yourself laughing at the completely atrocious CGI as Pearce rides a Hover bike across town. The thing is though the movie knows what it is, it’s something that is never suppose to be taken seriously. I mean for a futuristic space movie that’s budget was only $20 million they accomplish a lot with it. “Transformers” was set on earth and their budget was $150 million. It’s just suppose to be a fun action flick to see while hanging out with friends and you know what, it does a great job doing that.
The reason for that is it’s story, Mather, St. Leger and Luc Besson co-wrote this together and although there are clearly dozens of holes in it, it delivers basic entertainment. That being said though this could also easily be called a rip off as I was pointed out to by a friend afterwards. This is another reason for waiting to write this review, I wanted to see for myself and after all, part of me does want to say it is at least half a rip off. To continue, the movie it seems to be blatantly ripping off is an 80’s classic futuristic action movie starring Kurt Russell and it is John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York”. Although there is a difference between that and this movie, there are still basic plot points that run throughout. 1: It’s set in the future, 2: It deals with a maximum security prison, 3: a former government agent (military) is being sentenced to that place, 4: He gets the choice of saving the President’s daughter/The President himself or he dies, 5: He must face the prison by himself with all of the prisoners running loose. As you see there are many similarities the only real difference being that one is set in New York and the other in Space. And while I’m not sure how no one noticed this before it got made, I still ended up liking “Lockout” even after I watched “Escape from New York”. And most of that is contributed to how the characters were written, especially two of them.
The two characters that I thought were the best were Snow and Hydell as it was your typical good guy vs. bad guy scenario, but they are like an ADHD version of what you see in other action movies especially the ladder. While some aspects of all of the characters are typical the longer you sit though the movie you end up being totally entertained by their craziness. The character of Snow takes a bunch of different action characters and puts them together to make him snide and arrogant. And while they try to deepen his characters choices by adding a sub-plot that involves a mission and a briefcase it gets buried beneath the mission at hand over and over again after reappearing a couple times through mentions. Hydell on the other hand is one of the craziness psychopaths I’ve seen in a long time and although you can see a small form of his character in “Escape from New York” I like that “Lockout” made him our main crazy bad guy.
All of this though gets brought out through the acting and although some might walk away thinking it was bad acting, I couldn’t help but be entertained by them all. Of the cast there are only six actor/characters that run throughout the entire movie. Breaking them down we start with Lennie James and Peter Stormare who play both sides of the Secret Service meaning one’s nicer than the other. Both character are the smallest of the six but they give a nice sub-plot that gives you a surprise in the end. Next is the brothers Alex and Hydell played by Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun respectively. Although Alex is the one put in charge of the gang of prisoners I feel that Hydell is more of the main bad guy as we deal with him from that get go and continues to do whatever he wants even after his brother is put in charge over him. Regan I thought did a good job of playing a bad guy and unlike Gilgun’s character he is thinking of a way to get out and chooses strategy over just killing everyone. Hydell on the other hand is the complete opposite and until we get told that they are brothers you would have never guess it. He is almost like a child just looking for the easy way out and not thinking about the long term situation. He is completely psychotic and doesn’t look like he cares whether he dies or not. Gilgun does an awesome job of playing Hydell, and he looks like he must have had a lot of fun doing that part. As for Maggie Grace who plays Emilie, the President’s daughter, she pulls a different yet similar role than what is seen in “Taken”. She is weak and innocent looking but proves she can be strong. At times though she seems to be miscast because there were times that she just didn’t seem to fit into this world especially next to Pearce and while doing some of the sporadic comedy. Guy Pearce on the other hand is totally great in this role as the wisecracking Snow. And even though some of the action stuff seems a bit far fetched as he and a few others should have been killed a few times over, he still make you feel confident that he can get the job done with time to spare.
Overall “Lockout” is a fun little action flick, it isn’t meant for you to sit there thinking about the plot the whole time. Yes, the plot is extremely parallel to “Escape from New York” but it tries to make itself a little different and that all works with Guy Pearce and Joseph Gilgun. Don’t expect this to win any awards or even make a lot at the box office just enjoy some mindless action with your friends/family. And if money is tight just put this on your queue and see it on DVD, you won’t be missing anything.