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Great 80s scifi. Take it as it is and enjoy.
It's like someone took the Shawshank Redemption, Escape Plan, and Star Wars and crushed them together
This was one of those films I enjoyed a lot in my youth and on review I still loved the film. Granted it isn't a critical darling and grows bizarre with every new story beat or twist. The fun is from the filmmaker Gordon who plays with the violence to ensure this film is not like all the rest. It is violent and unforgiving for the characters, and the filmmakers style matches something like Robocop. Mix of genres and a fun storyline deliver on the promise of an action driven film. Your tolerance will be based on the filmmakers style and those early minutes are very strong. 06/10/2019
Who knew that watching Raw Deal and then Fortress would make a fantastic over the top action doubleheader. Well, movie nerds and action aficionados, but not me. In my attempt to go through movies I should have seen by now, I bring you Fortress. A Stuart Gordon Sci-Fi action movie about a private underground supermax prison in the future year of 2017.
It is scary that I felt like there are things in this that I felt could have very much come about in that year. Private prisons, population control, cops killing civilians, half-human half-machine prison wardens made from the non-aborted babies of the prisoners...well one of those things may be a stretch.
Plot-wise, after being caught at the Canadian border trying to escape America with his wife who is pregnant with their second child. Chris Lambert gets arrested and thrown in an underground supermax prison in the middle of the desert. Here he is fitted with a device called the "Intestinator" which, when he is misbehaving or moving outside of where he should be will make his intestines explode. After finding out that his wife is alive and still pregnant, Lambert begins a weirdly convoluted way escaping which includes, using a hidden intestinator out of someone else stomach, his pregnant wife shacking up with the warden, and having his mind melted in a machine they use at theme parks. In the end, while the exploding people filled with blue goo are fun to watch, the move isn't really a thinker.
Although, there are a lot of creepy ideas in this. Since abortion is illegal the prisons keep the babies birthed from the women prisoners and meld them with machines as well as things they find on the floor to make the perfect hybrid human. The warden is a successful attempt at it, while the guards on are not. It a nice add-on that keeps the goofiness at bay just a bit.
I really enjoyed this film. I know there are a ton of flaws to it, and it kinds of looks like a sad grey tower of bland. Fortress just has too much weird and goofy to not be fun. Add in some hardcore violence, and exploding people and it's hard not to enjoy yourself.
I liked this for the genre, though Lambert is any Oscar contender.
There's a lot here that's smart, or at least well versed in Foucault-biopolitics, panopitcon, punishment and discipline-but Lambert is, well, Lambert, and the whole thing suffers for it. Hokey, low-budget, and a bit too flimsy to ever really land.
This was a whole lot of fun back in the early 90s brimming with Cheese this sci-fi action mash up is a treat for fans.
Kurtwood Smith plays the warden and hams it up.
It's basically the opening scene of the Running Man (when they break out of prison)extended for 90 mins with a more futuristic look.
Good action sci-fi thriller--still holds up.
Could do with a good remake.
As with any Christopher Lambert film, Fortress caught my intrigue for nothing more than the presence of the great French actor.
As I learned with Knight Moves (1992), that is not enough to sustain an entire film. Alas, it ended up being one of the few things of any value in Fortress. And that's a bit of an overstatement considering what he delivers is less to be proud of than even most of his lesser efforts. Clearly an attempt to market a star vehicle, Fortress offers less around the actor than it does of him, so it's very clearly a failure.
For one thing, the plot device is pretty repetitive. Despite its science fiction premise which does offer potential for exploration of a dystopian thriller, Fortress ends up wing a repetitive prison drama film. There is obvious creative room to be explored in the feature because it has stylish value even with such a low budget, and yet even with all that and a cult-favourite actor headlining the feature, Fortress traps itself within the walls of a solitary confinement narrative which is too scared to break out of the cell. There is an unexplored dystopian universe within the narrative of Fortress where politics have changed and mass underground prisons are a thing. Yet the small budget imposes the limitation of having to use the same basic backdrops again and again while the script refuses to discuss anything more than what is happening right then and there, neglecting the wider universe. The simplicity of the story leaves the film to be little more than a series of mediocre imagery. Much of the imagery in the film is directly plagiarised from the original Star Wars trilogy, such as John Henry Brennick on an electronic bridge preparing to close or the design of the prison guards beneath their masks. It's essentially like a B-movie rip-off of the Death Star escape sequence from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope without any of the distinct charms. And the gimmick stretches on for so long without having any sense of thrills or actual adventure to it. As well as that, the colour scheme of the film gets extremely repetitive very fast and fails to hide the repetitive scenery away from viewers. There isn't even a sense of humour at any point in this film because the story takes itself so ridiculously seriously that it ends up as a B-movie without any sense of humour. You might even think that some of the stupid story elements are at least funny for their ridiculous nature, but again, that would be an inappropriate thing to put your faith into. Pessimism is the only way to approach a film this poor because there is just no way to justify anything that happens over the course of the tediously boring and strangely long 91 minute running time.
For a film that's tagline is "Welcome to the future", it fails to deliver on both its claims. Viewers are not welcomed into the film but merely hypnotized by boredom-inducing flashing lights that will leave them favouring sleep more than attempting to stay awake throughout the film, and the lack of innovation in all this does not feel like it is any positive step forward to the future. That's the first clear signifier of the lack of writing within Fortress coming from way before the actors have to confront their "characters" and viewers have to confront the actors' "performances". But when the time comes, the experience is underwhelming.
Christophe Lambert is given little chance to push his character over the top. There are minimal chances he is given to even come close to it, so the gimmick that comes with bad movies boasting his presence cannot even be found in Fortress. His handsome demeanour and beautiful myopic eyes cannot be ignored, but the script's dedication to character clearly can because he has nothing to work with and delivers as such. Since Christophe Lambert is the only reason that I or perhaps anyone would come to see Fortress, the fact that it has less idea of what to do with him than Carl Schenkel when he directed him in Knight Moves is just terrible. The characters in Fortress experience "Intestination" at random points in the film which is supposed to be some kind of torture. In actuality, every actor repeats the feat of just appearing constipated while an annoying and repetitive sound plays out in the audio field. Though Christophe Lambert is not alone in this awkward "achievement", it's more disappointing since his energy in these moments are not even funny on any level. Christophe Lambert fails to deliver charisma on any level in Fortress, and the sight of his eyes are just not enough to look past this time around.
If you've ever heard of the name Loryn Locklin you would be one of the few because her forgettable performance in Fortress clearly states that she has no place in the world of professional acting. Perhaps that is a lot of criticism to dump on her when the lack of script already leaves her in too much of a poor role, but either way she is miscast. Loryn Locklin's facial expressions look like some weird version of confused instead of being genuinely dramatic. It's like she's wondering what she's doing cast in the film, and she's not the only one. Commonly, B-movies use actresses with sexual appeal to compensate for their limited acting abilities. And though Loryn Locklin may have the former, she does not supply the latter. In essence, she is bad on both levels and truly just miscast into a melodramatic leading role that she is simply not ready to step herself up to.
So due to a repetitive story, a lack of universe building, a lacklustre effort by Christophe Lambert and the absence of any genuinely positive value that comes with a B-movie, Fortress exists only to protect viewers from experiencing something far better by imprisoning them in the same boring cell as the protagonist.