'Lockout' Review: An Unapologetically Conservative Action Hero
The first five minutes of the new Luc Besson produced flick "Lockout" let you know exactly the kind of film you are in for - one liners, action that actually looks like action ... when was this movie made again?
"Lockout" is not so much an homage to '80s action films as it is one of them. While watching it, you may forget Barack Obama is president. It feels like the Gipper is still looking out for us and "Jersey Shore" has yet to be unleashed. It's actually a bit alarming how "American" this movie really is, considering it stars an Aussie, is directed by two Irishman, and was produced by a Frenchman. But, hell, I guess "Lethal Weapon" inspires no matter what language it's in.
Howev,r my own 95 minutes of film bliss seem to have translated into 95 minutes of "Republican" hell for some other viewers. Jason Bailey recently published a piece over at The Huffington Post entitled, "Your Republican Friends Are Going to Love 'Lockout'." In it, he calls "Lockout," "dumb as a door knob" and gives numerous examples of GOP-friendly one liners from the film (more on those later).
Bailey concludes by saying by that the film knows its audience and wonders whether they will embrace its "Republican" hero. As one of those registered demons I can say that I completely embraced "Lockout's" supposedly "Republican" hero and loved a film that didn't jab at my ideals but rather acted as a breath of fresh air among a wasteland of just bad movies.
Still, a few points need to be made.
First, there is a huge difference between a partisan piece of art and a piece of art that leans one way or the other. Partisan art is crafted for one specific audience and plays to their ideals. It's a film that means harm to those who disagree with its "righteous" world view. These are the kinds of films Big Hollywood targets.
On the other hand, a piece of art will always lean one way or the other based on the people behind it. A novel or movie can be considered "liberal" or "conservative" after a bit of study based on decisions a character makes, whether those decisions are rewarded, the way the world is shown, etc.
For instance, "Family Guy" is a liberal show. It's not hard to see which way the show leans due to its creator, Seth MacFarlane. However, it's not a partisan show as much as people want to believe it because it has no interest in seriously pushing its ideals on others. Its ideals and worldview simply come across naturally.
"Lockout" is a conservative film, but in no way a partisan film. This is the major reason conservative film buffs should jump at the chance to see it.
Secondly, calling the film "Republican" is a bit too simple. "Lockout" may be conservative, but not every line would've gotten the GOP stamp of approval (where can I get one of those by the way?). "Lockout" is filled with a plethora of great one liners. It's anti-establishment hero, Snow (Guy Pearce), is sarcastic and almost disinterested in "saving the day." If this film was made twenty years ago, Bruce Willis would've been playing Snow. Some of the one liners that seem to stand out as political are as follows:
After the president's daughter proves herself capable with a machine gun, Snow quips: "Jeez, I thought you were a Democrat..."
After being threatened by the president's daughter about what her father could do, Snow replies: "What's he gonna do, raise my taxes again?"
Snow manages to make a few more jabs as well in other parts of the film, but the parts that prevent "Lockout" from being "Republican ( but not conservative)" are as follows:
When Snow is told he is to be convicted of espionage and sent to the prison MS-1 without a trial, he makes a sarcastic comment about his supposedly "important" rights according to the constitution (which in this dire future seems to be a distant memory ... sound familiar?).
Also, later in the film the president is relieved of his power according to the "25th" amendment to the constitution. This moment of government militarism is not seen as righteous in the film. It is almost mockingly looked upon and its outcome (if carried through) would've meant death for our lone hero and the damsel in distress.
These lines and situations probably mean some of the makers behind "Lockout" may be more Libertarian than anything (but still conservative nonetheless).
It only makes sense for our hero to seem Libertarian or conservative. After all, he's anti-establishment. How lame would it be if our hero mocked the government's militarism, but then he turned around and made a jab about how important universal health care is? If he had, then the left probably would've dug the film a little more. But, alas, he does not. He hates all authority. Our hero is an individualist through and through, and that's a relief.
One final point: conservatives complain that Hollywood is liberal, and liberals roll their eyes at such an insertion. But when a film comes along that breaks the norm and happens to present a hero that makes jokes at the left's expense, a writer at "The Huffington Post" feels the need to point it out. The same is never done over there when a film mocks President George W. Bush or Sarah Palin because that is "normal" and "accepted."
It only goes to prove the notion that it is the partisan films that anger most everyone, while something leaning one way or the other according to its worldview is simply inevitable.
Now let's put that political crap to the side for a second and geek out: "Lockout" is awesome. "Lockout" is a perfect dose of movie for anyone who longs for films like "Die Hard" or "Escape From New York." Pearce is surprisingly good in his John McClane like lead role and the film looks great probably due to the involvement of Besson, who directed "The Fifth Element".
Despite a low budget, "Lockout" manages to grab you and fly you through some great action, great one liners and an overall great ride and not let go till the final seconds. Plot holes, unoriginality, superficiality ... who cares? Sit back and enjoy the ride.