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Many movies, almost all of them terrible, have been based on video games. Here’s a short list:

  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Street Fighter
  • Wing Commander
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Sometimes the transformation from video game to movie works out well. According to my notes, these movies were worth watching, perhaps more than once:

  • Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (seriously!)
  • Resident Evil
  • Max Payne

Obviously, the success rate for this genre is catastrophically low. Movie to video game adaptations are similar in quality. Jurassic Park for GameBoy, E.T., and Cutthroat Island on SNES are but a few examples. The list goes on, almost without end. With rare exception, such as RoboCop versus Terminator for Genesis, this entire class of games is a lost cause.

This brings us to Lockout, a futuristic space adventure story that takes place inside an orbital prison. While watching the credits roll, it seemed likely that the audience would find out which PS3/360 first-person shooter had served as the raw material for this story. Surprisingly, there is no video game involved. Instead, the basis for Lockdown is an “original idea” by Luc Besson. For any of our readers who watch genuinely good movies, you might recall Besson as the director of The Professional. Besson was also the force behind the insane 1997 action epic The Fifth Element, and a foundation of the Transporter franchise.

In Lockdown, the plot is as thin as any found in a first-person shooter since the late N64 days. The president’s daughter, Emilie (played by Maggie Grace) has been taken hostage by recently defrosted cryo-convicts, and only one man can save her: Snow. Played by an exceedingly smarmy Guy Pearce, Snow is sent to space prison MS-1 to retrieve Emilie and return her safely to earth. At the same time, Snow has his own agenda. As explained (poorly) at the beginning of the movie, Snow has been arrested for theft of a briefcase containing government secrets. During his spectacular flight from the authorities, the briefcase is lost in a train station. The only man who knows where the macguffin ended up is Snow’s partner Mace, a convict in MS-1. Without the case as evidence, Snow cannot prove his innocence. The plot is a string of tense, time-constrained gunfights and dirty sarcasm. Not very wholesome, but intermittently amusing.

 The run time of Lockout is roughly 95 minutes, making it less prone to becoming a self-important morass of dark, smoke-filled rooms and futuristic social commentary (see: Blade Runner, all versions and cuts). The visual effects and action sequences are over the top, out of control, and compliment Pearce’s sarcastic devil may care performance. As one tag line succinctly put it, “Lockout is like Blade Runner meets Die Hard!” Emphasis on Die Hard. This movie is easily more enjoyable than Die Harder or Live Free, but falls far behind Die Hard with a Vengeance and the original.

For a feature length cutscene, Lockout is highly effective. Playing the inevitable PS3 spinoff of this game will be tempting, if only for a fresh dose of Snow’s witty repartee. Is this the next Crank, Transporter, or Die Hard? Sadly not, but Lockout is a decent standard bearer until the arrival of heavy hitters Prometheus, Expendables 2, and Skyfall later in the year.

+1 x-factor points for Guy Pearce’s boundless smarm.


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  1. Pete says
    2012/04/16, 23:41

    Best graph yet. Although Suspension of Disbelief could probably just keep rising towards infinity.

  2. Libby says
    2012/04/17, 21:20

    Cutthroat Island for the SNES was Chrono Trigger compared to Cutthroat Island for the Game Boy. It was as though Morgan Addams had taken a whole bunch of horse tranquilizers before she set out a’pirating. You had better luck with speed and agility playing Miss Pac Man on the Pizza Hut arcade machine that’s been there for 25 years and never once cleaned, the buttons gummy with Pepsi-stained hands, the crumbs of hundreds upon thousands of Meat Lovers pizzas wedged underneath the joystick so that “left” is only an occasional option.

    But it’s still better than Cool World by miles, both as a bad movie and as a terrible video game.

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