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Fortress (1992)

In 2017, John Henry Brennick and his wife Karen are captured at a US immigration point with an illegal baby during population control. The resulting prison experience is the subject of the ... See full summary »

Director:

Stuart Gordon

Writers:

Troy Neighbors (story), Steven Feinberg (story) | 4 more credits »
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Lambert ... John Henry Brennick
Kurtwood Smith ... Prison Director Poe
Loryn Locklin ... Karen B. Brennick
Clifton Collins Jr. ... Nino Gomez (as Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez)
Lincoln Kilpatrick ... Abraham
Jeffrey Combs ... D-Day
Tom Towles ... Stiggs
Vernon Wells ... Maddox
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon ... Zed-10 (voice)
Alan Zitner Alan Zitner ... Claustrophobic Prisoner
Deni Gordon Deni Gordon ... Karen's Cellmate
Eric Briant Wells Eric Briant Wells ... Border Guard
Dragicia Debert Dragicia Debert ... Bio Scanner Guard
Heidi Stein Heidi Stein ... Pregnant Woman
Harry Nurmi Harry Nurmi ... Guard #1
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Storyline

In 2017, John Henry Brennick and his wife Karen are captured at a US immigration point with an illegal baby during population control. The resulting prison experience is the subject of the movie. The prison is run by a private corporation bent on mind control. Written by Mark Allyn <allyn@netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Welcome to the future Where punishment is the ultimate crime See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and language, and for sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 September 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fortress See more »

Filming Locations:

Queensland, Australia

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$6,739,141

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$40,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Due to the fact that star Christopher Lambert had worked on several large scale productions, he was hired by the film's producers as a consultant and oversaw filming. See more »

Goofs

After Maddox's lower midsection is obliterated by the turret, he continues to stand upright for many moments before turning and falling off the duct pipe. But with no spine, that part of his torso could not have remained fully upright. See more »

Quotes

Prison Director Poe: Intestinate!
See more »

Alternate Versions

German TV version is edited for violence and gore to attain a "Not under 16" certificate. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

DIE KUNST DER FUGE BWV 1080
Contrapunctus 3&11 a 4
Canon per augmentationem in contrario motu
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Bell'Arte Ensemble
Courtesy of Koch Import Service
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Surprisingly good for a cheap 90's action film
22 March 2014 | by DoubleJayBeeSee all my reviews

I'll get this out of the way first: the budget of this film isn't fantastic. Nearly all of the action takes place in the titular Fortress, which consists of a handful of sets used two or three times over. There is also a truly awful make up job - a 'tattoo' that more resembles an enthusiastic black marker.

That aside...

Despite said bad make up, Fortress features some extremely good practical effects. While avoiding spoilers, some very messy deaths are involved with characters being literally blown apart. These look frankly fantastic, especially (as I'm sure you've heard from every other critic ever) compared to CGI deaths in PG-13 films today. There's something visceral and authentic about them...the idea that what you're seeing is really happening.

And despite being restricted to one location, Fortress certainly makes the most of what it has. The Fortress is very well designed, packed with containment systems that the protagonist turns against it. Granted, there is some silliness involved - apparently, there is only one non-lethal way to subdue prisoners, and after that it's straight on to 'blow-to-bits'. But -and this is important- all of it is for a reason. You don't get the sense that something is there just to facilitate someone using it to escape, and indeed the design appears to be based on a real-life idea from Britain - the Panopticon, emphasising prisoners' fear of being watched more than actual effort spent watching them.

Characters, then. Honestly, Christopher Lambert's acting is the worst part of the film. In fact, I get the impression that a certain sequence was made just for him, since all he needs to do is zone out for a few hours. It's as if his batteries ran out one day, but the crew had to keep filming so they quickly wrote in an in-story excuse. His character isn't that interesting either - ex-army, highly decorated, a typical 90s interchangeable backstory with little impact on the plot. However, this is more than made up for by the antagonist, Prison Director Poe.

Unlike normal villains of the genre, Poe isn't a cartoon character given form - indeed, Kurtwood Smith is rather subdued even by normal villain standards, contrasting with his earlier role as Clarence Boddicker. And also unlike Boddicker, Poe's actually a fairly interesting character - though an aloof, even sadistic Warden, we do see what little personal life he has, and are continually reminded in his scenes that he's still a person - he has tastes, even loves, and by the end of the film it's not even clear whether he's the real bad guy. The rest of the supporting cast do an okay job - I can't think of a stand out performance though everyone does their jobs well. Honourable mention goes to the writers and the director for giving a female character many good action scenes and half of a subplot, even when it would have been incredibly easy to neglect her as post-victory booty.

The setting, I should mention, has a very nice atmosphere. Too many films forget that these days, instead going for a more realistic, bland appearance - comparing the first and second of Nolan's Batman trilogy shows it blatantly. Fortress has a dark, smoky look, which helps greatly both to maintain an oppressive, cyberpunk feel, and hide bad FX which is a nice bonus.

This isn't a 'bad but fun film' in my opinion, though some may see it that way. It has that look, sure, and if the creators had cast Arnie in the role then it well may have turned out like that. But it has some depth - beyond the exploding bodies and in places absent acting there is thought. If anything, I'd liken it to a Paul Verhoeven film - entertaining, but still immersive, maybe even though provoking.


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