Luc Besson is a movie-making machine. While one can count the films he’s directed on their fingers and toes, Besson has produced over 100 movies since he first burst onto the scene with 1983’s sci-fi/action flick, Le Dernier Combat (The Last Battle), oftentimes writing the screenplays for (or, at the very least, coming up with the concepts ) the majority of them. The man really stepped up his output following the success of his Transporter series, and, since 2003, has been responsible for over a dozen of the most entertaining and outlandish action films of the past decade, including Unleashed (aka; Danny the Dog), District B13, and the enormously successful Taken. In early 2012 Besson returned to his sci-fi roots with Lockout; a genre potpourri that liberally borrowed from everything from Die-Hard to Escape from New York.
Lockout opens on the visage of the battered and bruised Snow (Guy Pearce); a smart-mouthed former C.I.A. operative suspected of killing a rogue agent who also happened to be one of his most trusted allies. While Snow recounts the incident that landed him in custody to Secret Service head, Scott Langral (Peter Stormare), Langral’s finest officers are in the process of escorting the President’s daughter (and human rights advocate) Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) on a fact-finding mission to the orbiting maximum security prison known as MS: One.
MS: One houses hundreds of the world’s most dangerous convicts, holding them in stasis while they serve out their respective sentences. Recent research, however, suggests that many of said prisoners could suffer irreversible brain damage as a result of said stasis, which is why Emilie has taken it upon herself to investigate the matter.
While interviewing an obviously agitated and unbalanced prisoner named Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), a security breach allows Hydell to release his former inmates – including his big brother, Alex (Vincent Regan) – from stasis. With the prisoners, many of whom suffering from stasis-induced dementia, outnumbering the guards, MS: One is overtaken, and Emilie finds herself smack dab in the middle of a hostage crisis.
Back on Earth, Langral tries to convince President Warnock (Peter Hudson) to allow him to send in a team to rescue his daughter, but special advisor Hock (Jacky Ido), a former associate of Snow’s, warns that such an assault would be too dangerous, and, instead, suggests that they send in Snow alone. Snow is understandably opposed to the idea of taking on what he considers a suicide mission, but, when Hock informs him that the only man who can help prove his innocence is currently a prisoner on MS: One, Snow realizes he has no choice but to play the hero.
What follows is a seemingly endless barrage of fisticuffs and ultra-violence peppered with self-aware macho posturing, smart-alecky humor, and the sort of wild action set pieces that Besson has become synonymous with. It’s all done with tongue firmly in cheek, and with an unabashed embracing of mindless action movie tropes. So yeah; I kind of loved every second of it. It’s wholly unoriginal in terms of plot, and its characters are as one-dimensional as cardboard cutouts, but the film is so relentlessly paced and unapologetically over-the-top that I couldn’t help but to find myself thinking of the glory days of cheesy action cinema. Lockout is a love letter to the Golan and Globus films of yore, tailor-made for connoisseurs of such fine cinematic cheese.
Sony springs Lockout on Blu-ray with a criminally gorgeous 2.39:1 1080p transfer that stands amongst the finest the studio have offered. The level of detail here is just amazing, lending facial features, fabrics, and structures a sense of depth and realism that has to be seen to be believed. The film isn’t exactly a vibrant affair, but there are some fairly vivid colors on display, with bright orange prison jumpers and yellow signage and canisters popping out of the industrial metal environs. The accompanying 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is equally impressive, with roaring bass and impressively immersive and natural sounding surround effects, but, unlike a lot of similarly bombastic tracks, this one manages to keep the crisp dialogue up front and center.
Extras are a bit on the light side, and include just a pair of short featurettes – the EPK style Breaking into Lockout (HD) and A Vision of the Future (HD) – as well as trailers for other Sony releases. Also included is a UV digital copy of the film.
As many critics have already pointed out, Lockout is basically Escape from New York meets Die-Hard in space (some have also likened it to Blade Runner, but I can’t see that as Lockout is nowhere near as subtle or cerebral). If you go into this one knowing that, and are prepared to overlook the lack of originality and embrace it for the balls-to-the-wall action spectacle that it is, the film will more than entertain. Sony’s superlative Blu-ray presentation makes this one that will appeal to both action fans and HD enthusiasts alike as it’s easily one of the best looking discs to cross my desk in quite some time. Highly recommended!