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Film / Lockout

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"We could send in one man. One man with one very specific order. To get Emilie Warnock out."
Agent Harry Shaw

Lockout is a 2012 action sci-fi film directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. It was written and produced by Luc Besson.

The year is 2079. After an operation gone wrong, CIA agent Snow (Guy Pearce) finds himself wrongly arrested for the murder of his friend Frank Armstrong (Miodrag Stevanovix) and accused of selling state secrets. Things don't look much better when Secret Service director Scott Langral (Peter Stormare) presents him with evidence he killed Frank as well as claiming he saw him commit the crime with his own eyes. He is eventually threatened with incarceration on the MS One, a Supermax space penitentiary, where prisoners serve their sentence in stasis.

However a chance to avoid this fate soon presents itself when the president's daughter Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) finds herself a hostage aboard the MS One, when a chain of events lead to prisoner Hydell (Joe Gilgun) releasing all the prisoners from stasis after Secret Service Agent Hock (Jacky Ido) violated one of the prison's rules. Hydell's brother Alex (Vincent Regan), a quite intelligent prisoner, ends up taking over the convict revolt.

After some persuasion from Snow's friend agent Harry Shaw (Lennie James), who informs him his accomplice Mace (Tim Plester) is also there, Snow agrees to rescue Emilie from the station.

Lockout provides examples of:

  • 25th Amendment: Langral has the President of the United States removed from power by invoking section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, which, showing he is Crazy-Prepared, he's got the appropriate authorizations to do.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The film is set in 2079.
    • Humanity has a greater presence in space, with MS-One and various other space stations (including the ISS) orbiting Earth. There is even a Low Orbit Police Department to maintain order.
    • The White House and its surroundings have become considerably more fortified, with the Oval Office now being located deep underground.
    • Ground and air vehicles have also advanced considerably, with Snow seen briefly driving a single wheeled motorcycle, and the DC Metro Police utilizing hovering plane/helicopter hybrids to pursue him.
  • Accidental Pervert: Snow and Emilie fall out of an airvent onto the floor below, her landing on top of him with her head about even with his crotch. She looks up, he looks over at her, and says, "Oh, that isn't necessary, a simple thank you will do."
  • Afraid of Doctors: Snow is a mild example: he has no trouble blowing people up and shooting them but anything involving needles, surgery, or other medical equipment tends to make him at least mutter "Yech!"
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Snow and Emilie spend a lot of time crawling around inside the vents. Inevitably, the floor gives way and dumps them into the room below.
  • All Men Are Perverts:
    • Treated rather interestingly when one villain, Hydell, is sex-crazed for the female lead (Emilie), to the point he ends up stabbing his own brother, Alex, in the chest for a chance to get at her. But his brother inverts this trope by being pretty fed up with his obsession and complains "you're shouting about THAT when we have a serious problem!"
    • The protagonist, Snow, also uses this trope interestingly. At times, he mocks her with his sexuality (such as when she falls face first onto his crotch and he tells her that "you don't have to do that, a simple thank you is enough"), but at other times he seems distinctly uninterested in her as a sexual being (such as when he's looking at her leg wound and saying "ew! yuck!" even though it's on her thigh, practically in her crotch).
  • And I Must Scream: The cryogenic stasis prisoners are being held in has a tendency to break the minds of certain people subjected to it. Some suffer dementia whilst others simply go Ax-Crazy. When and how this happens seems to be particular to the individual and have little to do with time spent in stasis.
  • Attempted Rape: Hydell attempts to rape Emilie as soon as he escapes, but he's foiled by Alex, who sees the value in keeping their hostages safe and unharmed.
  • Ax-Crazy: Hydell.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: In spite of being under arrest, sitting around men of authority standing over him, and being dictated the terms of his suicide mission, Snow just sits there with his arms crossed, unimpressed.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Alex and Hydell, the pair of prisoners who lead the riot and are brothers. Between the two, Alex takes center stage as the man with the plan much more often, but Hydell is so utterly psychotic that he's a much bigger threat because of his wanton murder and destruction. Hydell eventually murders Alex himself to become the main villain for the final minutes.
  • Broken Record: Mace, when Snow finally manages to find him, can only repeat certain phrases because his mind has snapped.
    Mace: Lullaby. Lullaby. Lullaby. Lullaby. Lullaby.
  • Cain and Abel: The two brother convicts Alex (Abel) and Hydell (Cain). Both are criminals, but Hydell consistently screws up his brother's attempts at Pragmatic Villainy by killing as much as he wants once the prisoners are in charge, even when it hurts their plans. Hydell eventually murders Alex, thereby dooming himself.
  • Canis Latinicus: So why does Snow decided to say "Ignem Ferram" (hot steel) when he was branding Shaw with his lighter? Other than trying to sound cool, that is.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Alex kills one prison engineer (see You Have Failed Me below), but the second one has a problem getting the door open, so Alex has a third engineer brought up, shoots the second, hands the third the door control the second was trying to activate, and tells him he has two minutes to get the door open. Realizing this isn't enough time, the engineer tells him, "You can shoot me, but I can guarantee I can get the door open in five minutes." Alex is pleased, admitting how he liked that this third engineer knows how to negotiate, and lets the engineer live after he does what he said he would.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Hydell's scar is mentioned as having been not done by himself, but by other prisoners to let everyone know he's a snitch. Snow later gives Shaw the same mark with his lighter so his new fellow inmates will know what he is as soon as the traitor arrives.
    • Snow's lighter swiftly turns out to be more useful than MacGyver's Swiss Army Knife. Well, almost.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Present and accounted for with the corporation that created MS One, which decided that using death row inmates and political prisoners as guinea pigs to work out the kinks of its cryogenics technology was a good idea.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Langral gets the necessary paperwork to relieve the President of the United States of his position and brings it with him. Said paperwork requires approval of the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet, meaning that he must have started the process soon after the takeover. Or before it even started!
  • Cryo-Prison: The film features one in space, on a satellite orbiting the Earth.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of Snow's dialogue consists of world-weary snarkiness.
  • Defiant to the End: Alex captures Emilie and threatens to sic his psychotic rapist brother onto her if she doesn't tell her father (the President of the USA) to call off an attack on the space jail they are in. Defiant to the end, she tells her dad to blow the jail — including her — out of the sky.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After Snow's friend Mace dies, Emilie tries to console him and he roughly rebuffs her.
  • Dye or Die: Snow forces Emilie to dye her hair black with some disgusting stuff they have at hand, to hide that she's a woman. She is not pleased.
  • Dynamic Entry: At the end of the movie, Snow arrives suddenly to grab Hydell's knife in his hand (OWCH!) before he stabs Emilie and then proceeds to punch Hydell in the face.
  • Elevator Failure: Snow and Emilie are on an elevator when it suddenly stops between floors, and he has to force the door open, ending up in a prisoner experimentation room.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Marion Snow. Due to his father being a big John Wayne fan with little foresight regarding his child's future school years.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-Universe; Snow has to disguise Emilie as a male inmate to pass through an area. The hair and clothes are easy enough, but how does he make her look like someone who's been in a fight recently? He punches her in the face.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The opening sequence shows Snow to be extremely sardonic, as well as an extremely quick thinker who is good with improvisation.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Alex does seem to care about his brother, despite him being an Ax-Crazy liability. His last words are even "Who's going to care of you now?" despite having been fatally stabbed by him.
  • Explosive Leash: Enforced by Snow on a very unlucky assailant.
  • Expy: Even during the trailers, people noted how Snow's character had a lot in common with Snake Plissken.
  • The Farmer and the Viper:
    • Emilie suffers due to her desire to see people like Hydell treated fairly. He spends the rest of the movie killing people she knows and going out of his way to do worse to her.
    • Alex is also victim to this trope, courtesy of the same person no less. He put up with Hydell when he would have killed anyone else because he was family. Though his death is closer to the "Scorpion and the Frog" variant given it effectively dooms them both.
  • For the Evulz: Hydell is just obsessed with causing as much death and mayhem as possible, and he doesn't seem to care that his actions jeopardize his and his teammates' chances of escaping the prison alive.
  • Genre Throwback: To '80s and early '90s science-fiction action movies like Total Recall (1990), Escape from New York and even more so its sequel Escape from L.A.. To the point that John Carpenter successfully sued this film's producers.
  • Go for the Eye: Big, big squick moment when Snow is instructed, after giving Emilie a shock with a defibrillator, that she only has a few seconds to live unless he gives her an injection to the brain, by pushing a needle through her right eye, which, of course, the movie shows in vomitous detail. Even Snow lampshades how squicky it is by admitting it makes him sick.
  • Good is Not Nice: Snow is snide, sarcastic, and deeply cynical throughout the movie. He's also constantly rude to the woman he's trying to save, including cutting her hair against her will and punching her to make her pass for a male prisoner.
  • Harmless Freezing: Subverted. The cryogenic stasis has no ill effect on the prisoners' bodies, but it does seriously mess with their brains.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Hock kills himself to allow Emilie more oxygen. Admittedly it was his fault she was in this mess but he did give her the time needed to escape.
    • Emilie telling her father to blow the station up despite knowing Alex was going to give her to Hydell if she did so. Subverted in that Snow comes back to save her specifically because she did this.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The US President orders a bunch of space fighters to rush the heavily armed MS1; instead of attacking, they fly around it and get shot up a bunch until they get into some kind of "final attack" run for one of the fighters to drop a bomb inside the station. Instead of doing something more pragmatic, like simply shooting it down with an ICBM or something.
  • Human Popsicle: The prisoners, one and all. It's revealed that the prison is functioning as an illegal proof-of-concept and testbed for using cryogenic stasis for space travel.
  • Idiot Ball: Hock, who started the whole mess to begin with.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Hydell is obsessed with raping Emilie throughout the film despite her value as a hostage. He almost has his way, but his brother Alex stops him in time for pragmatic reasons. Hydell actually ends up killing Alex for a chance to get to her.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Langral attempts to have Rupert beat Snow into talking. It doesn't work. Well, he talks, just not about what Langral wants him to.
  • Kangaroo Court: Snow being tried in absentia. It's obvious there wasn't really a trial so much as a politically handed down "verdict" that didn't present any evidence. This could also be read as part and parcel of a dystopian future where crimes against the government are punished without trial.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Snow forestalls objections to the stupidity of the plan by insulting it himself:
    Snow: Don't get me wrong. It's a dream vacation. I mean, I load up. I go into space. I get inside the maximum-security nuthouse. Save the President's daughter, if she's not dead already. Get past all the psychos who've just woken up. I'm thrilled that you would think of me.
  • Last-Name Basis: Snow prefers to be called by his surname.
  • Left Your Lifesaver Behind: Inverted. Hock, when he's supposed to leave his gun behind. He actually brings it with him, thereby giving the criminal the only possible access to a firearm.
  • MacGuffin: Even before Emilie gets nabbed to set up the main action, Snow is seeking a briefcase that contains proof of his innocence. Like all good MacGuffins, its actual contents (or lack thereof) are ultimately irrelevant to its role in the plot.
  • Maybe Ever After: Snow and Emilie.
  • The Millstone: Hydell. If Alex had simply killed him, the bad guys probably could have won.
  • MockGuffin: The sought-after briefcase turns out to be empty and the actual information is hidden in the lighter that Snow had the entire time.
  • The Mole: Harry Shaw.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Occurs when Snow is hit in the head by Emilie (a 90-pound untrained girl), he whines and bleeds (and it is the only injury that stays visible through the entire film). Contrast to when he gets punched multiple times in the face by a 200-pound monster of a military man… he simply makes snide comments.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Snow is convicted in absentia for his "crime". When Snow points out that he has a constitutional right to a fair hearing, he's dismissed as having "waived" that right by shooting a Federal Agent… Despite the whole point of a trial being that someone is innocent until proven guilty.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Hock. Twice. First he brings a gun into the criminal's side of the interview room. Which allows Hydell to escape and release all the other criminals. Yeah, the whole hostage scenario was all Hock's fault. Then he locks Emilie and himself in a nitrogen death trap.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Hydell murders the warden before he was about to reveal Emilie was there. Constantly undermines his brother Alex's more Pragmatic Villainy and even kills him in a moment of madness, besides killing the person who made sure the prison didn't crash into Earth.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Emilie Warnock goes to MS One to examine the conditions the prisoners are being held in, specifically the effects of stasis causing people's minds to snap. She also notes that the prison seems to be a front for a deep space exploration company who want to test out the effects of stasis for long flights. Which turns out to be completely true. She gets shot and held hostage in a prison filled with scum that want nothing better than to rape and/or kill her.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Snow, Emilie, and Mace go through a doorway into an open airlock separating areas. Only the door which is open has a warning on it, which can't be seen until Snow strikes the button (from the inside) to close the door and open the other one, where we now see the notice (which Snow can't see). "DANGER: High Radiation Area. Protective Suits Must Be Worn." This is the only notice before entering the area and no notice appears anywhere inside the airlock.
  • Nothing Personal: Harry Shaw tries to tell Snow this when he's revealed to be the mole. He was offered a huge amount of wealth that he apparently couldn't turn down.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Snow and Emilie. The former is sent on a mission to save the latter when she is held hostage on board a giant orbital space prison. The two bicker and banter and Snow basically acts like a jerk towards her the whole time, but they grow to genuinely care for each other. The epilogue when they arrive back on Earth teases a romance and includes an almost-Almost Kiss, but the movie ends with them still just friends.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When the convicts get into the secured room where Hock and Emilie are hiding, they search and only find Hock, dead on the floor, and when one of the convicts passes under an escape hole, an explosive marked "Voice Activated" falls into his hand. Everyone else runs as the Too Dumb to Live convict says "Shit," activating the bomb he's holding.
    • Another convict is looking into the air vent where Snow and Emilie are escaping, and sticks his head up right into the laser target of another explosive, realizing just before it explodes that he triggered it.
  • Point Defenseless: Averted. MS One has a whole lot of turrets, each with a pair of rotary cannons. Most of the attacking Space Fighters are obliterated.
  • Police Are Useless: The whole plot is arguably set in motion due to the incompetence of Emilie's Secret Service agents. The lead agent refuses to remove his back-up gun before entering an interrogation room, which allows the inmate Hydell (a former pickpocket) to acquire a weapon and escape.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: In stark contrast to his brother Hydell, Alex recognizes the value of the hostages, especially Emilie and her entourage. He was also seems willing to work with the negotiator if only to further his own goals. Subverted with his tolerating Hydell simply because they're brothers. This undoes his plans and ends his life.
  • Prison Rape: Subverted. When Snow and Emilie have to pass through the section of unfrozen prisoners, he disguises her as a male inmate to get past them. Unfortunately, the other cons still take a liking to Snow's "pretty boy" friend, and ask Snow if they can borrow him. Snow has to start a fight and expose themselves to get out of there safely.
  • Recycled In Space: The plot is basically Escape from New York recycled IN SPACE! In 2016, a French court awarded John Carpenter 450,000 euros for copyright infringement.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: The movie is set in 2079, but a gun not only falls out of a man's pants, it discharges directly at the policeman who bothered the man. But then, everything in the movie seems to be made exactly so the incredibly ridiculous plot could happen, even if it doesn't make any sense at all.
  • Retired Badass: Downplayed, where "retired" CIA operative Snow is helping out a buddy who ends up dead. Snow is framed, and to regain his freedom and clear his name, he gets sucked into the movie's main plotline: rescuing the President's daughter. However, Snow takes the job in order to achieve a secondary motive, so it's all just bluster and bullshit.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Shaw boasts this, claiming that he's too valuable to do any hard time. Snow responds by giving him a scar that marks him as a snitch, so his fellow inmates will probably kill him.
  • Siblings in Crime: The two inmates who lead the prison riot on the space station are two Scots brothers, Alex and Hydell. It ends tragically with the Ax-Crazy Hydell murdering his own brother, who tried to take care of him.
  • The Sociopath: Hydell’s an extraordinarily low functioning case. He’s utterly psychotic and murders everybody he comes across, even his own brother, simply because he could, has nothing even resembling impulse control, and possesses a complete lack of empathy or remorse for his victims (potentially justified due to reports of stasis having negative effects on the subjects' mental states, creating the possibility that he wasn't that irrational naturally).
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: The movie has this between (ex)CIA-Agent Snow and Emilie Warnock at the end of the movie. She arrives, they banter, and then when you think they are going to kiss she punches him in the face. He admits that "for a second there I thought you were going to kiss me" at which point she smiles, turns, and walks away. And he follows… and more banter ensues… sexual banter…
  • Smoking Is Cool: Snow's character was most likely based off of the classic anti-heroes of the 20th century and like many of those heroes, Snow is depicted as a badass smoker. This is even referenced near the end when Shaw calls Snow a relic and points out that nobody smokes in the future.
  • Smooch of Victory: Hilarious subverted at the end when Snow is released and Emilie shows up, smiles prettily, and punches him across the face. Wincing, he says "For a second there I thought you were going to kiss me!"
  • Space Friction: MS One starts to have its orbit decay because the technician who's supposed to monitor its altitude is dead… Now, granted, that technically does happen to satellites, but it takes decades.
  • Space Is Cold: Great example when, after being reminded of how cold it is out in space, the warden is placed in an airlock and the outer door opened — his entire body freezes in about one second.
  • Space Police: The Low Orbit Police Department.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Completely ignored by the police while they chase Snow. In addition to not giving him any warning, they seem completely unconcerned about bystander casualties, firing wildly on full auto and even launching rockets at him on a busy freeway.
  • Stupid Evil: Hydell is pretty much a poster child for this trope, as he tries to rape the damsel or kills multiple people simply For the Evulz no matter what the consequences. He undermines his brother Alex's Pragmatic Villainy in taking hostages and keeping technicians alive to keep the space station in orbit just to satisfy his blood lust, even though it would doom him (in his defense, it is strongly implied that this is the result of the negative mental side-effects of stasis on the subjects, creating the possibility that he is not naturally this stupid). Hydell even kills his brother in a moment of anger when he again doesn't allow him to rape Emilie, depleting his own options even further.
  • Super Window Jump: Subverted. Snow leaps off a rooftop into a window, only to bounce off it.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Langral is eventually revealed to be this, having genuinely witnessed what he thought was Snow murdering another agent. The implication at the start was he could be part of the frame up, but actually turns out to be Good is Not Nice. He also takes steps to ensure that the life of one person is not valued above the casualties the MS One would inflict after crashing into earth.
  • Suggestive Collision: Snow and Emilie fall from a ceiling vent and she ends up face-down in his face-up crotch. He looks down at her and remarks "Oh it's okay, you don't have to do that, a simple thank you is enough," at which point she leaps off him and calls him an asshole.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Emilie ends up the only woman in the middle of a space prison riot, so Snow must disguise her as a prisoner in the hopes that they can sneak past the others. He does this by rubbing coffee, motor oil, and dirty toilet water in her hair. The other prisoners still take an interest in her for being a "pretty boy" inmate, forcing Snow and Emilie to fight their way through anyway.
  • Team Killer: Hydell is just as likely to kill fellow henchmen as he is the heroes. In fact, he even kills his brother in the end, despite how this in no way helps him.
  • Thicker Than Water: A prisoner asks the riot leader Alex why he doesn't get rid of the bloodthirsty Hydell, who is clearly a liability to their escape plan because of his unpredictable homicidal urges. Alex responds that it's because Hydell is his brother. This tragically ensures his downfall, as Hydell kills Alex himself when he refuses to put up with Hydell's lunacy anymore.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: On-camera with the prison warden, off-camera with the orbital technician.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Emilie shows herself to be surprisingly adept at handling a submachine gun to keep a group of prisoners away, much to Snow's amazement.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Used when Snow cuts and dyes Emilie's hair to disguise her as a male. Particularly notable is that he tells her that "it's going to be fun" and the audience gets to watch him (but not her) during the actual event as she screams and objects. Ick.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Alex and his extremely Ax-Crazy brother Hydell.
  • Wham Line: Issued by Hydell just before he escapes from the interrogation room, as Special Agent Hock slams his head onto the table.
    Hydell: You know what I was before I was convicted of rape, Hock?
    Agent Hock: Surprise me, shithead.
    Hydell: I was a pickpocket. [holds up Hock's back-up gun taken from his ankle holster]
  • What You Are in the Dark: Discussed when Snow points out that it's fairly easy to be altruistic when you're rich and powerful. Though when it turns out Emilie is willing to make the tough call, Snow accidentally overhears and goes back to save her.
    Snow: You know it's easy to be a saint with nothing on the line. You wait till you've got a serious sacrifice to make and then you'll find out who you really are.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: One of Alex's prison henchmen outright asks this about Hydell, and given his unpredictable nature and clear insanity it's a very good question. Alex responds that it's because he's his brother.
  • Will Not Be a Victim: This is done psychologically when Emilie refuses to cave to the demands of her kidnappers to have her father, the president, call off his attack and instead tells him to blow the space jail (including herself) out of the sky.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Snow does it, though for a noble reason. It Makes Sense in Context, and he apologizes profusely immediately afterwards.
  • Would Rather Suffer: The leading man, Snow, initially refuses the call to save the President's daughter with the line "I'd rather castrate myself with blunt rocks."
  • You Have Failed Me: Alex wants to get into the room where Emilie and Hock are secured inside. He tells one of the prisoners to bring him a prison engineer. "No, two of them." When they show up, Alex shoots one of them, telling the survivor, "I hope this will eliminate the 'It's impossible to get in there' speech."