1993 Directed by Stuart Gordon. Starring Christopher Lambert, Kurtwood Smith, Loryn Locklin, Jeffrey Combs, Tom Towles.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 10, 1993
Certain films make me very glad I'm paid for what I do here. This is one of them. Despite the fact that director Gordon has quite a nifty resume behind him (he directed the stunning Re-Animator and From Beyond in the mid-Eighties, as well as penning the Disney hit Honey, I Shrunk the Kids), this attempt to update the old prison film genre reeks of Bad Career Move. Set in the year 2023, American population growth is so out of control that government corporations have put a rein on the number of offspring couples are permitted to have -- any more than one, and it's a one-way ticket to the Fortress (a giant underground prison housed beneath the California desert) and possible death. To be brief, Lambert and his wife are caught trying to buck the system and end in the title facility (natch). Since both are ex-Black Berets, they resist, are tortured, and more or less try to fight their way toward freedom and a kinder, gentler way of life for all concerned. Lambert is convincingly dull in his role, as are most other cast members (Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez is especially nonexistent as the only Hispanic prisoner in sight). Only Jeffrey Combs (late of Re-Animator), as the semi-sane computer whiz D-Day, elicits any real reaction, and really, he's little more than comic relief. Gordon, as is his wont, relies on stock situations and even stockier characters to try and move this clunker along, to no avail. Even the requisite gore is sub-par, so it's not even neat when some poor sap explodes and his entrails whiz by. Perhaps Gordon should go back to mining H.P. Lovecraft's territory.