You know what was cool? “Die Hard!” One smart-ass guy who has a problem with authority Yippie-ky-ay-ing as he outsmarts a dozen bad guys in an LA skyscraper. And “Under Siege,” with a smart-ass guy who has a problem with authority outsmarting a dozen bad guys on a battleship. And “Con Air,” with a not-so-smart-ass but (relatively speaking) cool and collected guy who’s still a think-for-himself loner on an “escape-proof” prison transport plane filled with really bad guy convicts? So, why not put a smart-ass guy who has a problem with authority on an “escape proof” space station filled with really bad guy convicts who are now even badder guys because they have been given a “stasis” drug that can result in dementia, aggression, and psychosis. And how about if their hostages include the President’s daughter! Borrow some more from “The Rock” and “Escape from New York,” while you’re at it!
It may only be April, but silly summer action movie season is already upon us, and this time it’s Guy Pearce, looking very dashing in riot gear as former CIA operative Snow, the wisecracking hero with his own set of rules. It is 2079. The oval office is in a bunker underneath the White House. And the President’s daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace) has gone to the space station prison that guarantees “no sexual assaults, breakouts, or riots.” She is on a humanitarian mission, to investigate the impact of the stasis drug, and, indirectly, the role of the company that wants to use the drug for commercial space travel, on the prison program. A group of prisoners, led by Alex (Vincent Regan) take over. At first they do not realize who the blonde in the lab coat is (see Ms. Gennaro in “Die Hard”), but eventually they figure it out. Meanwhile, the President and his advisors debate sending in troops or sending in just one guy who is the best, though hard to control, but may be persuaded to take on this suicide mission to get out of his own prison term for a bogus espionage and murder charge.
So we’re off through vents and tunnels and sliding doors and biometric security measures, and some neat gadgets (I loved the voice-activated bombs) and a lot of people with bad attitudes and not much impulse control. And the blonde princessy President’s daughter has to learn a few things and also demonstrate her own toughness and resolve, while she and Snow trade quippy insults. The folks back on Earth have to say things like, “It is vitally important that you go the right way” just as communications are cut off. There are fake-outs and close calls and a really fun zero-gravity fight. And there’s an emergency syringe to the eyeball. Ew.
Even by the standards of silly summer action movies, this one stretches the suspension of disbelief as well as the laws of physics (wait for that return to earth — like something out of Melies’ “Trip to the Moon”). But it is undeniably fun — Pearce is an engaging hero, producer Luc Besson always guarantees entertaining stunts, the set-up is still sturdy and the running time is blessedly brief.
Parents should know that this is an action movie with constant peril and violence. It includes many s-words, chases, explosions, shoot-outs, hand-to-hand combat, many characters injured and killed, disturbing images including a hypodermic to the eyeball, graphic wounds, and dead bodies, one with the top of the head sliced off, gruesome deaths, cigarettes, some sexual references including rape threats and a crude joke
Family discussion: How do Snow, Langral, and Emilie show their differing priorities? Should the President have been relieved of his authority to make the decision to attack?
If you like this, try: “Under Siege” and “Face-Off”