Sometimes, you see a movie, and there’s simply nothing wrong with it. It gets the cast just right, the direction is superb, and it takes a well-placed risk or two, making it memorable to say the very least. As you may have guessed, I am talking about a very specific movie here: Luc Besson’s…
Léon: The Professional (1994).
Now, that’s not the movie I’m reviewing today, but I want to set it up so you can get the full picture.
I’ve only seen The Professional once, but damn, did I enjoy it. It had everything listed above: Jean Reno and Gary Oldman, Luc Besson in the director’s chair, and the odd, mildly unsettling and slightly risque relationship between Reno’s character and the young Natalie Portman, giving it that well-placed risk that ultimately made the movie several times better. If I were to review that movie based on my single viewing, it’d probably earn a good 8 or 9.
Besson also did another little movie that you may have heard of called The Fifth Fucking Element (1997)! Also known as The Fifth Element in some countries. A movie chock full of interesting and entertaining characters, amazing visual effects, and creative story… elements (I’m so clever).
Why do I bring this up, you ask? Well, most of it doesn’t pertain to the movie I’m going to review. But, at the same time, Léon and The Fifth Element did cement Luc Besson, in my mind, as a pretty kick ass, if not brilliant filmmaker that knows his way around a movie.
Flash forward to 2012. Out comes a little film call Lockout.
When I first heard of it, I said, “Ehhhh…”. It just looked like a stupid mindless action flick. Later, I found out that it was written by none other than Mr. Luc Besson and then I said, “Oooh!”. Perhaps with a filmmaker of that renown behind it, we could get an action film with a little creativity to it. That’s something that’s always welcome in my book.
Oh, but I could not be more wrong…
Sadly, I think Besson may be at a point in his career that he believes that whatever movie he shits out is destined to be diamond encrusted awesome. This form of thinking has definitely claimed its fair share of talented filmmakers.
Put bluntly, Lockout was really, really bad. I honestly cannot believe that something as heinous as this film could come from the mind of Luc freaking Besson. It’s so bad, that I have to think that either Mr. Besson has lost a great deal of his talent over the years or that he wrote it as a joke and some assface decided to make it anyway.
The plot revolves around a space prison (a plot device that, though cool in theory, has never been executed very well to my recollection. If I’m wrong, let me know). The president’s daughter goes up to the space prison for some poorly thought out reason (I think to make sure that the prisoners being kept in suspended animation there are being treated nicely or some shit), but, gasp, there’s a mass breakout. With an army of dangerous criminals on the lose, liable to kill the president’s daughter at any moment, the government, given no other choice, requests the aid of a lone badass turned criminal/mercenary. Hyper action ensues.
Hey, that sounds kind of familiar, don’t it? Let me give you a hint.
Yeah. Sounds an awful lot like the plot of Escape From New York (1981), doesn’t it? Just replace ‘the president’s daughter’ with ‘the president’ and ‘space prison’ with ‘New York’ and it’s the plot of Escape From New York exactly. I feel like it’s not even trying to hide it. It’s not like, say, Battle Royale (2000) and The Hunger Games (2012), where the premise is rather similar, but the stories themselves are different enough that it doesn’t feel like The Hunger Games is totally ripping off Battle Royale. Here they’re just like, “Yeah, Escape From New York… IN SPAAAACE!”.
But, to be perfectly honest, that premise still could have been really cool. Perhaps not the best action movie ever, but still. The plot would have had me groaning throughout, but within that plot, there could have been some really cool shit happening. Instead of car chases with Ernest Borgnine, there could have been zero-gravity gun fights… with Ernest Borgnine (seriously. That guy’s still alive and acting). At the very least, it could have been some awesome, entirely superficial action movie that’s great to eat popcorn to.
But if that’s what you want, look elsewhere. Might I suggest Shoot ’em Up (2007)?
But here, there was nothing of note. Every action sequence was uninspired and riddled with shaky cam. Shaky came everywhere! I never once felt excited or that there was ever any risk. I knew how every sequence was going to go. Even that could have been okay if it looked cool, but no. All of the CG was awful, so we couldn’t even get any cool effects.
The same can be said about the whole plot. Never once did I feel surprised or that anything was really going to happen to the good guys. I called every single plot twist, every character death. Besides borrowing a plot from another movie, they never did anything creative within that story. The entire thing was just a big steaming pile of bland.
Speaking of a big pile of bland, every single character was boring, cliché, and all around either bland or outright horrible. Oh hey, I wonder if the main character is going to say some witty one-liner. Oh, snap! He did! Oh, look. The president’s daughter is being a bitch again. Oh, that bitchy president’s daughter. Oh, shit! I think that psychotic, evil-looking prisoner is going to do something psychotic and evil. Well, color me flabbergasted, he did something psychotic and evil. I mean, hell, every character even looked like their assigned cliché.
There was not a single drop of genuine creativity in the entire film! It was boring and uninspired and flat-out bad! There are even some small things that hurt the film. Like, if those two characters are brothers, why do they have entirely different accents?! The whole damn thing is just a giant mess. In fact, I’m just going to say it. Lockout was garbage! I came so close to just walking out of the theater. But no, I was determined to sit through the whole thing so that I could review it. So, by the end of the movie, was there anything good to its name.
Yes, actually. The main character punches the president’s daughter in the face once. That was funny. Not funny enough to actually add anything. But funny.
The sad thing is that it could have been good! Or at least entertaining. But no. I actually feel like all of the people involved in the production actually felt like they were making the next great action movie. They thought the one-liners were clever and that the characters were sympathetic. But no! They were nothing. Had they done it as more of a parody, I bet it would have been hilariously bad. Take the aforementioned Shoot ’em Up for instance. It still delivers all of the action movie clichés, but does it in such a way that both parodies and pays homage to them, making it a rather wonderful film and perhaps one of my favorite movies in the action genre. But with Lockout, it feels like the makers wanted us to take it seriously. That, paired with a plot borrowed from a far superior movie, terrible effects, horrendous acting, and staining the career of an otherwise exceptional filmmaker, makes this movie complete trash. There is not a single redeeming quality here.
Story: 1/10 Usually, in order to avoid a 1 in story, a film simply needs to have a story that can be followed. But in this case, the story was stolen. So that subtracts a point, bringing it to 1.
Acting: 1/10 Every performance was horrible or boring, which is worse.
Cinematics: 1/10 Very poor CG for this day and age plus predictable action sequences riddled with heavy shaky cam.
Congratulations to you, Lockout! You have just received Organ Miner Reviews’s very first 1/10! That’s not an easy task. In order to avoid a 1/10, a movie just needs one category above a 1. And you couldn’t even do that. I hope you’re proud of yourself.