Guy Pearce giving a great performance isn’t surprising, but his work in Lockout is one of the best of his career. He brings Snow right up to the line of being an unbearable dick, and then he spits over the line. Pearce crafts just the right mixture of nonchalance, bravado, weariness, and honor. Some may argue that Snow’s treatment of Emily borders on the misogynistic, but the film clearly lays out that Snow is dismissive towards anyone he doesn’t like or trust. Grace does a good job of making Emily more than the damsel in distress, but this is Pearce’s show and no one can steal a scene away from him.
With Pearce as their lead, Mather and St. Leger have crated a delightful combination of an unapologetic B-movie and a grade-A performance. Pearce doesn’t “save” the movie, because the directors know exactly what kind of story they have, and it’s a story where you don’t make excuse for why there’s gravity in the space prison (because the implied answer for those questionable details is always, “Because it’s the future.”). It would be easy to say that Lockout is more fun that it deserves to be, but Guy Pearce’s performance takes the guilt away from a guilty pleasure.