Prison break movies are a dime a dozen. Going back to The Great Escape, there seems to be no shortage of masterminded criminals who can muscle their way out of maximum security detention. Whether it’s Cool Hand Luke or even Chicken Run, it’s a tried and true genre. Next, came the prison heist movie, where a group of people infiltrate a prison to get someone out, like in Prison Break or Watchmen.
This movie is the next evolution: a prison heist movie, in space, with a rescue mission thrown in for good measure. Here’s why it should be your next Netflix pick
From directors Stephen St. Leger and James Mather, Lockout is a 2012 thriller starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace. It follows Pearce as “Snow,” a man wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years “stasis,” a risky form of medical hibernation, aboard the Maximum Security prison space station MS One.
Just as he’s about to go into stasis, a massive prison riot starts aboard MS One, putting the president’s daughter — played by Grace, currently aboard the ship for some reason — at risk. Her only hope of rescue, and Snow’s only hope of freedom, lies in that risky rescue mission.
Though Guy Pearce has more Timothy Olyphant wit than Liam Neeson intimidation, his leading man is irreverent, spunky, and incredibly interesting. He’s got more skin in the game than just the possibility of a lighter sentence. The key to his innocence lies with a mysterious briefcase, and the only person who would know where that briefcase is is on MS One.
While most prison break movies portray the criminal as the underdog hero, Lockout uses the prisoners as the villains who take a group of people hostage and have no qualms about killing them left, right and center. It’s a powerful dynamic and the orbital space station has all sorts of set pieces that make for a great action film.
If the plot of this movie sounds a little familiar, it’s for good reason. After the film’s release, writer Luc Besson was sued in the French court by iconic director John Carpenter, claiming the plot bore too strong a similarity to his movie Escape from New York. Plagiarism is a tough crime to prove, but Besson was found guilty and ordered to pay massive amounts of damages to Escape from New York’s production company and screenwriter.
Is Lockout an uncredited Escape from New York remake? Your mileage may vary. As it stands, it’s a gripping science-fiction action thriller, and the next logical step for the “prison break” genre. It does boast just one big question: where does the genre go next? After all, space is the final frontier.
Lockout is now streaming on Netflix.