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Lockout

26 Apr

Lockout — written and directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. Sci-Fi Action. A prison breakout in space. 95 minutes Color 2012.

★★★★★

Why is he one of the great film actors of our time? Well, for one, there is his application – complete application to the key he has chosen in which to play a role. (And for another there is his discernment of what the right key is. Back to application:) Not every good or great actor has it; it’s an ingredient in the work or it isn’t. What application means is that before the first note struck there is no doubt, there is no seeking out the way; there is complete commitment and forward movement. The actor asks nothing from the audience. But what he gives to them is a character for them to trust. He is selling apples, not grapefruit. He has thrown himself into it. He is there. Proactive. Among a variety of positive ingredients of his talent, it is a characteristic of the craft of Guy Pearce. So it is easy to see why a producer would want him to tell a tale. It is why the entire film of The Hurt Locker depended upon how by-the-rules Guy Pearce lightly played the opening sequence: the entire film streams out of that performance and was unthinkable without it. In the case of Lockout he is the principal player, the hero. Here he plays a jocular Buck Rogers in a comic book in film form, a superhero with a witty mouth for a cape. Pearce’s understanding how to deliver these jokes as throwaways is the critical counterpoint to the heavy, head-on, non-joke situation of The President’s daughter held hostage by creepy Scottish escapees in an outer space prison where inmates are injected to sleep their sentences out, but are actually used for dastardly experiments. You know the sort of thing. Is there another actor alive who could play it so well? Yes. Robert Downey Junior, but Pearce has better diction; he is more audible. At his most sub-rosa he doesn’t murmur. Because this is the case, he and the girl can remain dialoguing and not get swallowed up by the special effects. The writer/directors let Pearce keep the comebacks coming, and thus the characters are not lost, as they so often are when such films bear down on their finales and the rocket ships start zooming. His fine physical shape and prowess authenticate the role as well. So what is he? He is perfectly cast, that’s what he is. He is so perfectly cast you don’t even think about it. He is so perfectly cast you go along for the ride through to the end and beyond, even though without him in it you would not watch such a movie at all, and without him in it, you would have movie at all.

 
 
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