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A futuristic prison movie. Protagonist and wife are nabbed at a future US emigration point with an illegal baby during population control. The resulting prison experience is the subject of the movie. The prison is a futuristic one run by a private corporation bent on mind control in various ways. Written by
Mark Allyn <email@example.com>
Stuart Gordon began his career as a director with Re-Animator, a classic horror comedy that has a huge cult status and deservedly so. Fortress was his first entry to non-horror oriented field, even though Fortress still has many horror elements, too. Christopher Lambert plays a military officer in the near future, where it is allowed to have only one child per couple. He and his wife broke that order and they are sentenced to high security modern prison Fortress, set in the middle of desert. There are many inmates there and everyone wants to get out, but if someone breaks the rules, the punishment will be death or torture by the sadistic boss and wardens..
This was surprisingly great film, and Gordon did fine job with the film. It was filmed entirely in Australia and the film was first big budget movie for Gordon. He said that he wanted to do a sci-fi action film with brains, too, and that he wanted to discuss some topical issues with his film. These issues are over population and alarming/scary development of technology, and even though the film is not too deep or philosophical, it has these aspects of commentary about society and our everyday world, and what it should not be. This is not as satiric or intelligent as Paul Verhoeven's Robocop, for instance, but still it is little more than just average blast 'em action film set in the future.
The settings are very great and technically this film is fantastic as there are no flaws in camera use and editing. This reminded me little bit of Robocop's future cities, and both films are marvelously staged. The action is plenty and it is exciting and professionally done and shot. Occasionally the film reminded me also of Paul Anderson's Soldier, the non-stop action mayhem film starring Kurt Russell. Christopher Lambert is not as multi leveled actor as possible, but still he has certain kind of charisma and he is easy to watch in his films. Kurtwood Smith played the bad guy in Robocop, and he plays bad guy in Fortress, too, but not as NEAR as bad as in Robocop's manic performance.
Due to the film's violence and fierce moments, this is pretty close to Paul Verhoeven's style of making action films, as couple of scenes are very violent and almost too violent for this kind of mainstream production, and as far as I know, this had to be trimmed by two violent scenes to get the R rating in US, and this slightly cut version has been released also on DVD in US and Europe. I saw the uncut version on VHS and there are couple of over-the-top bloody shootings and two gory stomach explosions, of which the second is VERY gory. It is easy to see the film is directed by the man behind the hilariously ultra gory Re-Animator. The violence in Fortress isn't funny in the tradition of Re-Animator; It is serious because the film itself is serious, not the kind of half comedy like Re-Animator.
The film is perhaps little too slow moving in the middle part but for most of the time, this works fine and pleased me very much, and proves the talent of Gordon in other genres than horror, too. I give this 7/10 rating and recommend this to anyone interested in sci-fi and action cinema. It's not a masterpiece but still very noteworthy piece of 90's science fiction and action cinema.
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