The 56th president of the USA's do-gooder daughter, Emilie (Maggie Grace), is on a fact-finding trip to SuperMax Prison Planet MS: One—a prototype orbital big house where inmates are kept pacified in deep freeze—when she's taken hostage in a riotous insurgency led by freshly thawed Scots psychopaths (Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun). The only man who can extract Emilie from this peril is in the bad graces, and custody of, national security—but wrongly accused agent Snow (Guy Pearce) agrees to the suicide mission, since the only person who can clear his name is also on MS: One. The committee product of newbie directors James Mather, Stephen St. Leger, and producer Luc Besson, Lockout is, not unexpectedly, a potluck of derivative references. Among the recognizable '80s-actioner tropes: the "maverick who's the only man for an official suicide mission" premise, exemplified in Escape From New York; Snow's wisecracking under pressure, tossing asides to the audience in self-amused Bruce Willis fashion; the on-the-run odd coupling of the first daughter and the sullied Snow, in which each finds the other is more than what they seem. Such scavenging might be overlooked if the action were legible, the one-liners crisply written, or the chemistry of the leads bonding. As is, Lockout's dystopian future of expendable lives comments principally on a dystopian present of expendable entertainment.
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