After our last plea for everybody to stop remaking Die Hard, delightfully mental French bloke Luc Besson (Leon, Fifth Element) gives us… Die Hard in Space. Or is it Escape from New Alcatraz?
With Guy Pearce (The Proposition, LA Confidential) bulked up as special forces spy-hard Snow, sentenced as a traitor, his shot at redemption comes with the order to rescue the President’s daughter from the orbital super-max prison over-run by Earth’s worst criminals.
Spies. Guns. Psychos. Prison. Space. That’s it.
Technically it’s a lock-in… oh never mind. Once you start picking at it, the whole thing unravels…
Pearce does the Eastwood/Kurt Russell thing, smoking and wise-cracking as he creatively disposes of the bad guys. Hard-working gang leader Vincent Regan (Troy) does the gruff Scottish (presumably cheaper than) Gerard Butler thing, while repulsive Lennie James – dialogue without sub-titles – is his psychotic younger brother. The Scots really should raise a protest motion at the UN over this kind of stereotyping.
Lockout has some trademark Besson tropes. Smart, funny, throwaway lines; big, bonkers action set-pieces; paper-thin characters – with the exception of Pearce and his leading lady – and a plot that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
The set-up of the President’s daughter as a prison visitor the day the lunatics take over is, of course, typically Hollywood. Later on, I was thinking no government spending billions on a space station the size of Statton Island is even going to consider blowing it up. It’s a cryo-stasis prison; no food, no water, and it’s in space. Duh!!! But then, why go to the expense of a cryo-prison in space?!?! Any hole in the ground will do. And if you’re going to summarily execute the lot of them, why bother with a prison?
Pearce is clearly having a whale of a time. Token black actor Jackie Ido plays the friendly Die Hard side-kick.
The actor who emerges with surprising credit is Maggie Grace, as Emily Warnock, who genuinely develops into a new person by the end.
If you’re a genre movie fan, this is a superior genre movie from a devil-may-care film-maker not afraid to be derivative of everybodies movies including his own (hey, it never stopped John Carpenter). It’s no Fifth Element or Leon, but it is a welcome return to form after some dire American outings (Taxi) by Besson. RC
Directors: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Writers: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger, Luc Besson
Cert (UK): 15
Runtime: 95 mins
Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Cast: Guy Pearce, Jacky Ido, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan
Related: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)