Some of us are still mourning the loss of SouthLAnd and others are completely wrapped up in The Killing, but starting this weekend, there will be a new cop drama to fill our times with. Adapted from the mini-series of the same name, Low Winter Sun, is the story of a cop who made a decision and the fallout that followed.
In a somewhat unusual move, the AMC version of Low Winter Sun stars the same actor who played the lead role in the British version. Mark Strong plays homicide detective Frank Agnew who, with his partner, Joe Geddes (Lennie James), kills a fellow cop. Of course if it was the perfect crime, there wouldn’t be much of a show so the slain officer is found and the show focuses on the onion like repercussions.
Low Winter Sun is set and filmed in a city dealing with its own demons of late, Detroit. While Detroit isn’t a listed character in the shows credits, it’s not hard to imagine that the city will lend its own flavor to the action much like NYC does to Law and Order and Baltimore did to The Wire. In fact the show’s creator, Chris Mundy, hearkened back to The Wire when talking to The Washington Post.
[box_light]I don’t mean to presume that we’re doing things as well as them, you can draw parallels between Detroit and Baltimore, and Baltimore was a character in that, in such a good way. Let’s try to be that good, but let’s make sure we’re not doing something simply because it’s familiar and somebody … already did it.[/box_light]
Of course it would be difficult to top the brilliance that was The Wire, but not too shabby of a goal to shoot for.
Low Winter Sun premieres this Sunday, August 11th, after the final season premiere of Breaking Bad.
In retrospect, it’s a little bit embarrassing to think that Lockout was on my most anticipated films of the year list. But I mean, how can you blame me? The film’s first preview was engaging enough, and for God’s sake, the movie had Guy Pearce in it. For those not familiar with the powerhouse of legendary action that is Guy Pearce, he’s the actor to beat all actors. I’ve only recently become a Guy Pearce fan, but after seeing some of the films in his resume, I can safely say that the guy is one of the most eclectic and talented guys working in film today.
So why would he accept a role as amateur as this? To be honest, I don’t know, but here are five reasons that lead me to believe that Lockout will not live up to its potential. I’ll also include three reasons why the inner action film fan in me is going to love this movie.
5. Lockout is rated PG-13.
Yes, yes. The dreaded PG-13 rating. Very few films have been able to truly push their PG-13 to its full potential (The Dark Knight and Titanic specifically), and I highly doubt that Lockout will be the film to break new ground with this MPAA certificate of approval. Had the film been rated R, it probably could have had the appeal of graphic violence in its favor. But alas, money is everything in Hollywood, and the more asses you can get into the seats, the happier the execs are.
Personally, I don’t think this film will work as a PG-13 film. The premise and central villain seem to be too gritty for a PG-13 movie. Then again, screenwriter Luc Besson kind of made Taken work as a PG-13 action movie, but just barely. I’m also definitely not expecting the Christopher Nolan level of genius that came with The Dark Knight.
4. The film’s writers/directors, James Mather and Stephen St. Leger have never made a feature film before. They’ve barely even made one short.
This reasoning can be considered invalid by a lot of readers, and I completely understand that. But look at this from my perspective. If your first film seems to be a witless, joyless, and ultimately brainless action film that happens to star a great actor, what can we expect from you in the future? I agree with the whole “where would we be as filmgoers if we never gave first time directors a chance?” mentality. But what I don’t agree with is letting what are pretty much two amateurs make a film like this. Granted, Lockout has a fairly modest budget of $30 million dollars (compare that to the $250 million dollar price tag on The Dark Knight Rises), but I’d like to see a feature film debut more along the lines of the ingenious Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.
The last time we let a first time director make a big budget Guy Pearce movie, the result was the god-awful Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and much like Lockout, it was vouched for by a very popular filmmaker (Guillermo Del Toro). I theorize that the only reason Lockout had a chance of being produced was because of Luc Besson who came up with the original idea and co-wrote the screenplay for the film. He also serves as executive producer on the picture. In other words, he really wanted to see this movie hit the big screen.
3. Luc Besson hasn’t written a truly good action movie in years.
This is one that I hate to have to bring up, but it’s true. It really is. Sure the guy has made a couple cool looking movies over the past few years with some great martial arts and some admittedly great gunplay, but have things really been great since The Professional? No, they haven’t. Sure, From Paris With Love and The Transporter trilogy had some moments of greatness, but overall, they were just pretty good. Really good even, but not great.
I respect Luc Besson, I really do. But at the end of the day, he’s great at one thing. Mindless action films. He rehashes his ideas and uses fast paced and slickly edited action sequences to get things moving. Like my mother always said, you can polish a turd but at the end of the day it’s still a piece of shit. (Had to throw in a Jody Hill reference to keep things moving!)
2. From Lockout‘s previews, it seems like the film has only so-so special effects.
Earlier this year, a little $17 million dollar film called Chronicle was released and it completely turned the superhero genre on its head. I’m not sure if you guys remember, but the CGI in that film was pretty freaking fantastic. Now, after reading some advance reviews and rewatching the previews for Lockout, I can honestly say that without seeing the movie, the effects in this movie border on…pathetic.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the preview again, and when Guy Pearce is riding the futuristic looking motorcycle, tell me with a straight face that those CG graphics don’t look like something straight out of a video game. Which leads me to my final point…
1. The previews just suck…a lot.
Upon a first viewing of the preview for Lockout, I was intrigued and ultimately began to really anticipate this film. Now, I look at the preview and I just laugh. The cheesy one-liners, the crappy CG effects, the awful dialogue, and the borderline plagiarism that occurs in the story line (Escape from L.A. meets Die Hard, anyone?) On top of that, the cast is full of B and C list actors, not including Guy Pearce, that look flat out embarrassed to be on camera.
Now that I’ve basically shit on this movie before it’s even come out, here are three reasons why Lockout might not be as bad as we think…
3. Guy Pearce.
Need I say more? The man is a god in his arena. He can do anything from a western to a sci-fi to a horror to a family drama, and he can do it damn well, too. I’ve never really seen him take on a role that he couldn’t handle. If anything else, Lockout will benefit from a committed performance by Pearce himself.
2. The premise is interesting enough, even if it’s been done before.
I’ll just be the asshole that goes ahead and says that even though this premise has been done to death, it still looks interesting in the context of this film. By essentially stealing from every other great breakout sci-fi action film of the 80s and 90s, Lockout mashes them all together into one big super movie and expects the audience to not know the difference. And while this is true for some to most regular movie-goers, film buffs are rather outraged by the film’s shameless borrowing tactics. I for one am open to the idea of derivative and mindless. It gives me a reason to waste 95 minutes of my life and for a decent enough reason at that. Action movies are fun, and the ones that aren’t fun can just go end up in the $5 dollar bin at WalMart.
1. Come on, people. That villain with the Scottish accent is pretty awesome.
Joseph Gilgun. A name not familiar to many, but to fans of “Misfits” and This Is England, you probably just jumped for joy at the sight of his name. For those who need to catch up, Joseph Gilgun is, for all intents and purposes, a bad ass. With an intensity similar to that of Tom Hardy in the 2008 film Bronson, Gilgun is able to channel what can be characterized as a slight bout of aggression, into some pretty phenomenal roles. I, for one, am thrilled to see him as Lockout‘s predominant villain. I have a feeling that after Pearce, Gilgun is definitely going to steal the show.
Here you have it folks. My reasoning behind why Lockout might suck, and why it might not. Feel free to comment and agree or disagree.
Original Lockout trailer:
Also, you can watch the first five minutes of the film, as well as a couple of other clips:
I love Zoe Saldana so much that I don’t even want to say this movie disappointed me. But it totally effin’ disappointed me. I’m always one for a good revenge flick, and after seeing the trailer for this one it was a no brainer – I was going to enjoy it. It looked like something in the same vein as Leon (The Professional) where Natalie Portman played a little girl wanting to become a killer to exact revenge on the criminals who killed her parents. It’s basically the same thing except not as good.
Cataleya is a seemingly normal little school girl until her parents are killed by a rival crime lord. After bartering her way into the U.S. she reconnects with her uncle, played fantastically by Cliff Curtis(Live Free of Die Hard). She asks her uncle to train her to be a killer and he agrees only if she promises to still attend school… you know, to become a smart killer. The movie skips ahead 15 years later, and that is where our story starts with Cataleya in full swing with her revenge.
Zoe Saldana was perfect in the movie, playing one of the sexiest assassin-killers I’ve seen in a movie, and with some real tortured feelings lingering for the last 15 years after losing her parents so young. The action scenes seemed few and far between and I was kind of disappointed not being able to see the young Cataleya train as a killer with her Uncle. More Cliff Curtis as Uncle Emilio would have been awesome, which also could have shown if he was the one to actually train her. Other than being able to fire randomly in public to prove a point, there was no indication that Emilio trained Cataleya in infiltration or hand-to-hand combat. And I have to give special props to young actress Amandla Stenberg for her brief stint as young Cataleya. We’ll be seeing more of her in The Hunger Games next year.
Another aspect of the movie I didn’t enjoy was the love story angle that was unexpectedly spewed forth. I thought maybe the guy Zoe was all over in the trailer was another assassin, or a government agent, but nope. He was just an ordinary artist who wanted to talk about feelings and take pictures of her while she slept. Lame sauce in a revenge action movie bro.
There was also a CIA angle in the movie where Callum Blue (Smallville, Dead Like Me) plays a kind of villain. I thought maybe he would be a force to be reckoned with, but unfortunately he was pretty much wasted talent. Plus his American accent was terrible after only hearing him so much with his thick English drawl. Lennie James (Snatch, Hung) as Agent Ross was a definite strong addition to the supporting cast. It was actually another big part of my disappointment to see such a promising cast not fully utilized like they could have been.
Overall I give the movie 2 out of 5. I went in thinking I’d be seeing more straight up action than I did. I’m a guy all for character development in a movie, but this is one movie where the romance between Cataleya and the painter guy (I can’t even remember his name and refuse to check) could have been sacrificed.