Calum Marsh over at Esquire recommends that you watch Lockout. I vehemently disagree.

While I sympathize with a wistful admiration for Guy Pearce’s rare lead performance (I really do wish he didn’t always play weaselly villains) and a fervent wish for the movie-that-might-have-been, the movie-that-was sucked. A lot. It was probably the worst thing I saw at the theater in 2012.* It was so incredibly silly and nonsensical from start to finish, and it didn’t even really manage to be bad in an entertaining way. I found myself bored for most of the last half of the movie. The only “modest revelation” I encountered was my realization that Maggie Grace was obviously cloned in a lab to fill Bridgette Wilson’s vacated spot in Hollywood.

Photos of Wilson and Grace looking identical

Can you even tell which is which?

But I can’t really criticize Marsh too harshly. After all, I have loved — enthusiastically embraced — some genuinely shitty movies in my time. And I find myself intrigued by Marsh’s assertion that Lockout is a “contemporary film noir.” I own no claim to expertise in that genre or style or mode or label or however we’re defining that this week, and maybe Marsh does. Even so, I wouldn’t have ever made that connection, and I’m not really buying it. But it could be a perfect example of something I’ve believed for a long time:   It’s not what you see on the screen that counts; it’s what you think about it.

Some people just relax in front of video and absorb. I don’t get that at all. My partner doesn’t grasp how I can be “too tired to watch television,” but if I can’t focus and actively engage at all times with the material, then it’s a pointless activity for me. And even with bad movies I find myself filling in the blanks they’ve left empty on my own. The end result can be that my experience of the story winds up entirely different than another viewer’s experience. And so from a particular perspective, you could argue that I simply failed where Marsh succeeded. I allowed Lockout to leave me hanging, but Marsh was able to latch onto something interesting. And, in turn, he inspired me me to read a bunch of articles about film noir that I probably wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Cool.


* Probably. But that was also the year of Snow White and the Huntsman and Dark Knight Rises. So that’s a tough call.


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