What a fun surprise, this movie. Guy Pearce plays a disgraced cop accused of killing another officer and hiding evidence contained in a metal briefcase. Maggie Grace (forever to me poor Shannon from Lost) is the President’s daughter, taken hostage while investigating a supermax prison that houses 500 criminal masterminds. Pearce is given the option of infiltrating the prison in order to rescue her, and he agrees to do so, mainly so that he can find his former partner who went to jail for helping hide the briefcase; Pearce believes that if he can find it again, he can prove his innocence.
Also, the year is 2074 and the prison is in space. Not that it matters, really, because this plot – allegedly an “original idea” from producer Luc Besson, but strikingly similar to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York – could be set anywhere. The real charm of the film is the script and Pearce’s gleeful commitment to it, wisecracking his way through scenes where everyone else is playing it pretty seriously – with the notable exception of Joseph Gilgun, who stands out as the uncontrollable burden and brother of hard man Vincent Regan. This is the kind of film that keeps me going to dubious SF movies, hoping for a diamond in the rough.