Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews Lockout


Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews the new sci-fi prison escape movie Lockout in The Washington Times:

"Lockout" belongs to a number of familiar cinematic subgenres: It's part prison-escape flick, part sci-fi spectacular, part glib '80s-throwback action blockbuster. At times, it even threatens to become a slam-bang modern martial arts movie.

But the genre it belongs to most is the good bad movie. Indeed, as bad movies go, "Lockout" is one of the better examples Hollywood has released in years.

The good bad movie is not to be confused with the so-bad-it's-good movie that viewers of"Mystery Science Theater 3000" know so well. In those cases, a movie's outrageous and usually unintended deficiencies become so outsized as to be entertaining unto themselves.

Instead, the good bad movie is a movie that, by most common measures—script, story, special effects, character development—fails to meet a basic minimum threshold for acceptability, yet is somehow genuinely engaging and entertaining anyway.

Whole thing here

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  1. Escape From Dreck:

    Locked into watching another formulaic action movie, our protagonist in a moment of frustration throws his shoe at the screen and accidentally damages his brand-new flat-screen TV. While the TV is in the shop, he busts out of of his house, and goes in search of the best entertainment he can locate on the outside – open-air poetry slams, Jame Austen readings, and other inexpensive offerings. The experience is so awful as to almost induce him to turn himself in and go back to his TV, when he finds a brick-shaped object made out of a strange processed-wood-pulp material. Finding words printed on the inside, he becomes fascinated and entertains himself all weekend, the end.

    1. Also, get off my lawn.

      1. You are just a paranoid schizoid product of the twentieth century.

        1. Thank you!

  2. Instead, the good bad movie is a movie that, by most common measures – script, story, special effects, character development – fails to meet a basic minimum threshold for acceptability, yet is somehow genuinely engaging and entertaining anyway.

    So this movie sucks but for some reason this reviewer likes it?

    1. So this movie sucks but for some reason this reviewer likes it?

      Sure, why not? Some of my favorite movies – generally comedies – technically are not “good” movies, yet I still enjoy them immensely.

      Ever seen Waiting?

      1. I think that a movie’s purpose is to entertain. Some do a better job than others, but anytime I am entertained watching a movie I’ll say it’s good.

        I’m not going to torture myself with some 2.5 hour period piece just because the critics have deemed it a ‘good movie’ especially if Rambo: First Blood is on.

        Everybody likes action though. Think of the nineties when the cina-philes let themselves enjoy bloody-ass heist flicks because they were independent and therefore allowed to be classified as good films.

        1. Everybody likes action though.

          Bullshit. You’re just looking for an excuse to like Michael Bay movies; for which there is none.

          1. Michael Bay is a goddamn American hero.

            I don’t see you out there directing the music video for Divinyls’ I Touch Myself.

            1. Everyone kills Michael Bay in the crib on their first time travel trip.

            2. “I liked Michael Bay before he got too popular.”

              His best work is the Aaron Burr Got Milk? commercial.


            3. Michael Bay is a goddamn American hero.

              This statement is treasonous snd seditious. You deserve nothing less than Drone Process and become the protagonist in Explosion III: Attack of the Drones.

              You have seen Bay’s Explosion: The Movie and its follow up Asplosion: The Sequel, no?

        2. The 1990s destroyed the action genre. Just garbage. If you want action, watch Bullett or Dirty Harry or the original Taking of Pellum 123, or Thunderbolt and Lightfoot or even the first Lethal Weapon movie. The 70s were great for action movies. The 80s were not bad. But the 1990s were horrible.

          1. “Pellum 123”

            The old John is back, complete with spelling!

            1. LOL/ I went to the Stossell thing last week. First time I had ever gone to one of these DC Reason events. My wife loves Stosell. So I meet Ron Bailey. And the first words out his mouth were “you were the guy who was trolled”. I am like thanks Ron. Nice to be known for something positive.

              1. So I meet Ron Bailey. And the first words out his mouth were “you were the guy who was trolled”

                Remember John, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

          2. The 1990s destroyed the action genre.

            That’s because you were dumb enough to watch Hollywood action. You needed to get your Hong Kong Action Theater on.

            1. Ah, yes…

              The Nine Vicious Venomous Vipers versus the Fifty Ferocious Fighters of Fukien Province versus the Seven Stereotyped Samurais.

              1. That sounds….AWESOME!!!!

                I love the clunk-ly translated titles of wuxia.

              2. By the way…

                It’s a damn shame that so many wuxia novels remain untranslated. It’s China’s number one genre of fiction, and a lot of it is good stuff.

                1. Speaking of Asian action movies, I’d say Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is the first real action movie, since it has (to my knowledge) the first slo-mo killing in movie history.

                  Some words of warning – it does have actual characters, character development, and a plot line. Also, most critics loved it.

                  1. My favorite part: they actually keep score for you in the movie.

                  2. I am a philistine. I prefer The Magnificent Seven.

                  3. I think what was most interesting about Seven Samurai was that it still feels like a modern movie because of the template it established.

                    Also that movie may be one of the best depictions of how miserable a peasant’s life was. When your most valuable possession is a jar of rice your life really sucks.

                  4. Notorious has an earlier slo-mo killing: Claude Rains and his mommy, Madame Konstantin, try to poison Ingrid Bergman over a period of time by putting poison in her coffee.

    2. Dear sticks,

      Hi. I see we haven’t been introduced.



  3. I’m not going to torture myself with some 2.5 hour period piece just because the critics have deemed it a ‘good movie’ especially if Rambo: First Blood is on.

    That pretty much sums it up for me. Still, I can recognize the 2.5 period piece as a good (or even great) movie, given that it probably features excellent acting, great direction and cinematography, and impeccable costume and set design. And while I will admire the movie for these qualities, I’ll still want to gouge my eyes out with a grapefruit spoon after watching it.

    Conversely, I can watch a movie like Rambo, which has little going for it in terms of technical quality (OK, so some of the cinematography was nice), but which I truly enjoyed as a mindless diversion.

    So yes, I’ll take Rambo – a mediocre movie – hands down over Sense and Sensibility.

    1. I don’t know, it seems that making huge ‘splosions would be harder that puttin’ some lady in an old-timey dress.

      And acting; stuffy Brits acting like stuffy Brits ain’t a stretch. Stallone dug fuckin’ deep for Rambo.

      1. Making explosions is easier than coming up with a plot and dialog.

        1. Speaking of period pieces most of their plots are taken from great novels. Not to mention just about every plot is derivative anyways.

          1. Who cares where the plot comes from? And yeah, most plots are derivative. But it doesn’t really matter. A good plot is a good plot. And action movies would do well to retell a few good novels.

            1. They should retell Moby Dick and Ibsen’s Enemy of the People. Wait, they did – it’s called Jaws.

              And Jane Austen’s *Emma* became Nightmare on Elm Street.

            2. I wish Hollywood were capable of adapting science fiction novels without focusing on FX. There are some seriously good stories out there that happen to be sci-fi but that would probably be ruined because of H-wood’s obsession with big CG and explosions. For instance, The Mote in God’s Eye

              1. Unfortunately, anything Hollywood makes has to appeal to the “foreign market.” And from my travels in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, I can tell you that their tastes are so unsophisticated that they find The Three Stooges to be boring talk-fests.

                As usual, in making a product to appeal to all, they end up making a product that appeals to none.

                1. See also: Space Shuttle Engineering.

              2. Mote would need to be a miniseries.

                As was discussed in a thread yesterday, the miniseries seems to be dead. Even SyFy (fuck your spelling) doesnt do them any more.

                1. “Miniseries” are all that HBO does, in effect.

                  If you want Niven done, it would have to be by HBO or Showtime. I personally think Ringworld could be done easily.

                  1. Rama would make for a great HBO or Showtime miniseries.

                    1. David Fincher has been trying to make Rama into a movie for years, but it keeps getting sandbagged.

                    2. In this day and age of CGI, I can’t believe it would be prohibitively expensive to make. But it would have to be a mini series since the first couple of books leave so much unexplained.

                    3. I would LOVE to see Rama made right (Rendesvous, not the follow-on crap). What a wonderful story of exploration.

                    4. I liked the follow ups DB. I love it when the aliens were dumb enough to think the humans would stay in their habitat and not start tearing down walls and conquering the place.

                    5. Maybe I should re-read them. It has been a long time. I just remember being creeped out a bit by the Childhood’s End-esque paternalistic species-engineering aliens. Maybe I should take it as an alternate to Childhood’s End where the humans find a way to get their own way.

                  2. Another great miniseries would, of course, be A Deepness in the Sky.

                2. And I don’t see how you can say that mini series are dying because they don’t have a tail. They have a huge tail. Millions of people like me refuse to pay extra money for HBO or other premium movie channels. But will pay a few bucks to rent their better shows on Netflix. I have watched The Tudors and Boardwalk Empire on Netflix. I can’t believe I am alone or that people won’t be renting those shows for years to come.

                3. I think you could get Mote into a 2 1/2 hour movie pretty easily. There’s a fair amount of bloat that could be trimmed in the book that isn’t really central to the premise. The last scene even sums up the whole story nicely.

    2. I would take First Blood over the average period piece but no Rambo

      Any genre of movie can be good if it is well made. I can think of lots of period pieces I love. And lots of action movies. Sadly, action movies have fallen on very hard times. The ones made today think that explosions makes up for credible dialog and plot. And special effects have become so special that filmmakers are addicted to them. If every scene is an explosion, the explosions lose their effect. The new movies have no sense of timing.

      1. I agree with John here.

        Ive said before that every action movie should cut out one car chase sceene, save $1M in costs, and use 100k of the savings to hire a damn good writer instead.

        1. Good writers don’t write action movies anymore.

          1. That is a shame. It is a great vehicle. Hollywood abandoned several of its best genres for no apparent reason.

            They don’t make westerns, biblical epics or big war movies anymore. The excuse is that those genres are played out. That rings a bit hollow when you consider that Hollywood never seems to tire of making romantic comedies, cop buddy movies or surburbanites are really hypocrites behind closed door movies. Why don’t those genres ever seem to play out?

            And of course when they do occasionally make a biblical epic (The Passion), a western (Unforgiven) or a big war movie (Saving Private Ryan), those movies make a fortune at the box office. The Passion was a Gothic torture porn movie filmed entirely in dead or near dead languages and it made over $500 dollars. Yet unlike every other super successful movie, it hasn’t spawned a single imitation.

            Yeah, Hollywood sucks and can’t stop smelling its own farts and thinking explosions and leftist polemics make for the only acceptable forms of entertainment.

          2. An action movie is vastly more dependent on the director than the writer(s). Good directors don’t make action movies any more, and the good ones got old, like John McTiernan or George Miller. Michael Bay makes action movies now.

            1. Come on Episiarch. You still have Roland Emmerich. And he is doing Foundation.

              LOL. Hollywood hates anyone with an IQ over 60.

              1. Luckily, I hate Foundation. It’s ProL who will be crying. While I laugh uproariously.

                1. I read the first couple. They were not bad. But I got bored and never read anymore.

                2. Luckily, I hate Foundation. It’s ProL who will be crying.

                  Epi is “The Mule”?

          3. Now that I think about it, I am glad Hollywood doesn’t make big war movies anymore. Because if they did, Hollywood being Hollywood would do just like they do with everything else and just be remaking classics.

            And modern Hollywood can keep their grimy paws off The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape and Patton and all the other greats.

            1. And modern Hollywood can keep their grimy paws off The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape and Patton and all the other greats.

              Worry not John, the well has run dry. It’s only a matter of time before such movies become wussified, pussified, and totally PC-ified.

              With lots of superfluous explosions.

              “I dunno Steve, this jail escape may not jive with my chakra. Let’s hug. KA-BOOM!!!!”

              1. The Great Escape: the POWs have to choose between freedom and the close relationships they’ve developed in the camp.

            2. I will never get the consternation people have when Hollywood remakes something. You can still watch the original. And sometimes the remakes bring in or emphasize different elements than the original and are not only good, but better.

              Would I prefer they be a little more creative? Sure. But I can say that about almost anything.

              1. I agree that it really doesn’t matter what they remake. At first, I think people felt it was an insult to the originals, but now that it’s been done so many times, the shock has worn off. It’s not like the remake of Straw Dogs took anything away from the utter awesomeness of the original, or that Dawn of the Dead’s remake had any effect on the greatness of Romero’s work.

                1. What you both say is true, I suppose it’s hubris on my part. I want others to see the greatness of why those films are so timeless and so groundbreaking, not “Yanno, a nip here and tuck there, and a few more superficial tweaks and we will truly have a classic!” Feh.

                  1. And you won’t have to listen to kids saying ” They remade The Dirty Dozen with some old dude named Charles Bronson – they’re just ripping off a good movie.

  4. See that makes no sense dude.

  5. See that makes no sense dude.

  6. Saw it few days back. The effects are OK, but the comedy in the script is hilarious !

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