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For roughly half its 95-minute length, Lockout seems like a low-stakes B-movie that breaks little new ground, but demands so little by way of heightened attention that it almost comes as a relief. There’s something liberating about a decent B-movie, the sense that we can accept it for what it is: fast-paced junk. With Lockout, though, familiar plotting, bad dialog and a ton of cynical posturing eventually deplete the movie’s fun quotient.

Besson produces as a grizzled Pearce smokes
Besson produces as a grizzled Pearce smokes

This Luc Besson-produced effort casts Guy Pearce as a grizzled, cigarette-smoking former CIA agent who’s sent to an outer-space prison to rescue the daughter (Maggie Grace) of the president of the United States.

Grace’s Emilie Warnock is on a fact-finding mission at the prison — known as MS One — when all hell breaks loose. The inmates break from the deep-sleep state of stasis in which they’re being held, and take over the prison. Stasis is supposed to put an end to prison violence, but also may be involved in research that’s exploiting the prisoners. Set in 2079, the story imagines a time when life has become so dangerous, the president’s Oval Office has been moved underground.

Pearce does his best to handle the screenplay’s overly-flippant dialog, and Vincent Regan projects sinister intelligence as an inmate leader, but Lockout isn’t exactly an actors’ showcase. Directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, Lockout finds Pearce and Grace running for their lives for most of the movie as they try to avoid ruthless convicts and seek an escape route from the prison.

If you’re squeamish, you’ll want to close your eyes during a scene in which Pearce’s Snow must put a needle into one of Emily’s eyes. I’m always up for a hard-boiled hunk of futuristic dystopia, but Lockout ultimately disappoints. What starts as second-rate fun winds up being just second rate.