Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ICUI4CU: Lockout & Psychoanalytic Triples

I am happy to admit that I was wrong about this film because, if you are a Republican, there is an awful lot to like! I can understand some of the critical complaints against the film, but it doesn’t warrant the rotten ratings it has received; what would warrant rotten ratings, from a Democrat/Liberal critic at least, is the way it skips the psychoanalytic double and goes straight for the psychoanalytic triple to lay serious charges at the feet of President Obama.
We know all films are encoded because that’s what makes them art instead of documentaries, yet it’s a special little bonus when the film gives you a combination to unlocking what it wants you to find, and it’s the personage of evil in the film that actually does the unlocking and providing you with the mirror of what you should be seeing.
Snow (Guy Pearce) is seen to have shot an agent that he was supposedly protecting but the head of the investigation against him Langral (Peter Stormare) was actually seeing Snow in a mirror, hence, only seeing a part of what was really happening. Shaw (Lennie James) seems to be a good guy but when Snow hands him the briefcase containing state secrets that had gone missing, Shaw knows the combination; when Shaw opens it and sees there’s nothing in it, he’s mistaken: there is an invisible mirror in the briefcase, and just as Langral saw Snow in the mirror, so Snow sees Shaw in the mirror of the briefcase’s emptiness and knows that Shaw knowing the combination makes him the one selling out America. The false reflection of Snow committing espionage against America is countered by the accurate reflection of Shaw committing espionage against America. Why is this important?
My favorite scene in the film. The blond is Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) the president's daughter who went to the outer space prison to see if the prisoners were being treated humanely; while there, her bodyguard violates the rules and enables a prison riot to break out with her being taken as hostage. Emilie gets shot in the leg and her friend, a real doctor, gives Emilie her white doctor's coat to wear to help keep her warm; one of the leading prisoners in the riot, Alex (wonderfully played by Vincent Regan who played the Spartan Captain in 300) gets hurt and requires stitches, so Emilie is grabbed because, if she's wearing a doctor's coat, she must be a doctor, right? Wrong, and the film lets us know that this is exactly how the Obamacare legislation is at work. Twice, Snow had to play doctor to "bandage up" Emilie. As the president's daughter, she symbolizes what the president has "given birth to," that is, his administration, and Snow having to "bandage her up" comments on the wounded state of the president's term (much more on this below).
When a work of art (in this case, a film) uses a code as a part of the narrative (ICUI4CU, discussed below) it's going to employ other codes as well, and invites us, the viewers to unlock those codes; when mirrors are used, we are invited to look into the mirror and think about what we are seeing, and hold a mirror up to the characters in the film so we can enjoy a "deeper reflection" of them. Lockout does this throughout the entire film, consistently, delivering such a tight script that it's really enjoyable just seeing how the script plays itself out.
Why is his name “Snow?” Because there are two other important characters this year with the same name, Snow White (Mirror, Mirror) and Snow White (Snow White and the Huntsman; Vincent Regan is also in that). Both Snow White’s have wrongly lost their kingdoms and seek to get them back, just as Snow (Lockout) is trying to get back the secrets selling out our kingdom, the United States. So we don’t get the wrong idea, Agent Snow’s first name is “Marion,” because “My old man was a big John Wayne fan” (John Wayne's real name was Marion Robert Morrison). This is an important moment because John Wayne, an all-American hero (and conservative Republican) has a persona, a double (his real identity as Marion Morrison vs his well-known identity as John Wayne), and by using the star’s real name, we are reminded that we should be doing the same in the film, which is exactly what we are going to do in realizing that Agent Snow is a reference to Snow White. Just as the girls Snow White become more militaristic than the original Grimm Brothers' version (or the Walt Disney version, either), Lockout is also making Snow White--in the person of Agent Snow--more militaristic (not feminine nor effeminate) but willing to fight for the kingdom at stake.
There are two sets of codes needing to be broken in the film: encrypted codes and identity codes (who is who). The briefcase combination is one code that has to be broken in the film; the other is the mysterious encryption “I see you, I foresee you,” which has to be figured out to get to the briefcase to discover who the real spy is. Why is this little game important? Because, according to the film, someone in a very high position within in the government is selling out on America, and Lockout is saying, “I see you,” and what you are doing, and that means “I foresee you” in what you are going to do.  That person is the president of the United States, not just in the film, but in real life.
Don't believe me about the Snow White link? There's even an apple in the film, well, an apple supplement, it is in outer space, but it's not Snow getting the apple this time, Snow is giving the apple, and it's not poisonous, it's life-giving but it's also not taken (by Emilie). It’s not that identity is destabilized in Lockout, rather, identity is expanded to achieve the greatest possible exploration of a character possible. For example, Emilie wears a borrowed white doctor’s coat to keep her warm, hence, Emilie is mistaken as a doctor, just as legislators mistakenly took themselves for doctors in passing the Obamacare legislation. Snow is a CIA agent who is mistaken as a counter-terrorist (Republicans trying to save the country being characterized as terrorists because they are not socialists). Langral is mistaken to be selling secrets when he wasn't while Shaw was thought to be clean but is filthy. The levels are all throughout the film and great fun to find.
Please remember, that I am not intentionally grafting my personal political viewpoints onto the film: I will gladly admit to my interpretation of the trailer, how the film was going to use the prisoners to symbolize the Republicans who had re-gained control of the House of Representatives in the last round of elections, and the film was positing that American voters had acquired brain stagnation and now the Republicans were holding Obamacare hostage (the president’s daughter, that which he has “given birth to,” and bears his name, the health care program) and the near-sighted Republicans (the psycho inmate with a blind eye) were going to intentionally crash the prison into the eastern seaboard and destroy the United States. This is exactly the kind of insulting film I foresaw and I still went to go see it, fully prepared to have mud dumped all over me.
But that’s not what happened.
Hydell, the psycho inmate who starts the riot. There are some striking similarities between Lockout and Wrath of the Titans, for example, Hydell is the brother of Alex (the prisoner who assumes leadership and hunts down Snow and Emilie, pictured below) just as Hades and Zeus are brothers; chaos is unleashed when the prisoners take over the floating prison crashing towards earth just like Kronos is chaos being released in Titans. Whereas Kronos in Titans symbolizes the chaos of the American Revolutionary War, the prisoners rioting and the prison falling from the sky symbolizes the the general chaos that has been building as a result of decisions of the Obama administration; how can I prove this? President Obama basically ended NASA, the country's space program by ending funding for it and in Lockout, it's private companies that have been experimenting on prisoners for understanding long-term space exploration. I am a capitalist, but it seems the Obama administration (and Lockout seems to be making this point as well) is doing what it shouldn't (playing doctor) and not doing what it should (regulating outer space experiments). There will probably be a sequel, and the film does a great job of highlighting funding conflicts between Emilie's charity and the company funding the floating prison (it's privately operated, the government has nothing to do with it).  The prison falling out of the sky and potentially onto the eastern coast of the United States is, again, the general and backwards chaos from the way the administration has handled the Constitution (the eastern seaboard of the US is where the colonies were born and where this country and our ideals were born). There's another aspect to him: he continuously reminded me of Noah (Adrien Brody) from The Village in his mannerisms and intellectual ineptitude. Just as the villagers in that film had sought refuge from the violence of life in seclusion, so the people of the US sought safety in secluding the prisoners in orbit, but the boundaries were breached (films will reference other films like this to extend commentary so it doesn't have to waste its own time, but can still provide additional dialogue with its audience).
President Obama’s claim on history is that he is the first black president; congratulations to him, I am actually surprised that we haven’t elected a black president (male or female) sooner.  In Lockout, President Warnock is white but two polar opposite and pivotal roles are played by black men: Hock and Shaw (both black men in the film) very much appear to be psychological projections of the president (it's not just because they are black, that isn't it, but they are making a connection to a president who contends that everyone is racist if they don't like what he's doing). Hock is the bodyguard to Emilie Warnock  and Hock’s willingness to break the rules to protect Emilie is what starts the prison riot and gives Hydell the chance to steal Hock's gun and hold everyone hostage.
Oh, the very sexy Alex, well played by Vincent Regan (300 and the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman).  Alex immediately establishes himself as being in charge and continuously tolerates his brother's psycho behavior; why? Deviant leadership and brain stagnation are one in the same thing, even though we tend not to think of it that way. The supposedly calm and efficient leadership Alex provides the prisoners is literally destroyed by Hydell because the same "mother" gave birth to them both (the same situation) but the psychotic will always be stronger than the (seemingly more) rational part.
It can be argued that, with 21 impeachable offenses against him, President Obama has been willing to break rules to protect his administration; the gun that Hock hid in order to take in with him to "protect" Emilie that was stolen was around his leg, and, as we know, the leg symbolizes our will; Hock's "willingness" to use force (and he beats on Hydell several times) is the opportunity Hydell wants to steal the gun. There are several references in the film to someone's constitutional rights being denied to them (it should also clearly be pointed out that President Warnock in the film is a Democrat). While Hock willingly dies to give Emilie a few more precious seconds of air (Obama willing to sacrifice something in order to get what he really wants, like trillion dollar economic stimulus plans and a socialist health bill) Emilie is all ready dead when Snow gets there to lead her out of the prison, and who do you think has to play doctor to the dying administration (symbolically speaking)? The namesake of John Wayne, Agent Marion Snow.
This is when Emilie has first arrived aboard the prison and she's questioning Hydell on the other side of the glass. Please note the reflection of the psycho inmate and that Hock, her body guard, is on the side with the prisoner, meaning, that part of the Obama administration willing to protect his administration (Emilie) is on the same side of the law as the criminals it should be protecting society from; Lockout offers this cinematography for our "reflection" just as Hydell is reflected in the glass above.
It's only by sticking a needle into her eye and then wiggling it around that Snow is able to bring her back to life. Why? Because the eye symbolizes wisdom, the ability to discern and see into situations, and the medicine administered is to get her alive again and, symbolically, that can only be done once the Obama administration "sees" what they are doing and the chaos they have unleashed and are willing to work with the ones trying to save it (when Emilie first sees Snow, she hits him in the head with a yellow extinguisher; symbolically, this is the Democrats knocking out all the arguments of the Republicans who were trying to save the country, but the Democrats wouldn't accept the help and now look at where we are).
There's a great deal more that can be said, but this is at least a start, and one more film that aligns itself against Washington. Towards the end, the president is asked to give permission to launch an assault on the prison and he refuses because his daughter is up there; even after she tells him to blow up the prison, he still won't, and so Langral has overthrown the president's power to preserve the safety of the country; maybe, instead of playing golf this weekend, the president should go see Lockout...