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Fortress Poster

Fortress (1992)

Action | SciFi   
IMDB Rayting:   5.9/10
Country: Australia | USA
Language: English

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 »

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The_Void 5 August 2007

Well, it may not be everyone's cup of tea and it certainly has it's flaws - but for me at least, Fortress is one of the most fun B-movies released in the nineties, and that's no surprise considering it's helmed by the great Stuart Gordon! One of the main reasons why Fortress works so well is because it puts its focus in one place and every imaginative element of the film goes towards furthering the central plot. The title refers to the impregnable privately owned prison of the title. We are introduced to this penitentiary and its various pitfalls right from the start and while it's not hard to see where the film is going to go, it does at least make you wonder how it's going to get there. The central characters are John and Karen Brennick - a couple sent to the Fortress after she becomes pregnant with a second child, thus breaking a futuristic population control law. However, John isn't happy to just rot away in jail, and despite the numerous pitfalls that makes the Fortress escape proof - along with his fellow prisoners, he plots to escape with his wife.

The basis of Fortress is your classic prison escape movie, the only difference being the prison at the centre of the tale. The Fortress itself is certainly made good use of as the inventive methods in place to stop the prisoners escaping are constantly kept at the forefront of the audience's mind. The film really is never boring for a minute; if there isn't something directly going on in the movie then Gordon is using the time to build up the situation that the prisoners find themselves in. The film features a good B-movie cast, with 'Highlander' Christopher Lambert taking the lead role. Lambert is hardly a great actor, but he at least looks the part and his athleticism serves him well. Loryn Locklin isn't given much to do as the leading lady, but the rest of the support cast includes the likes of Lincoln Kilpatrick, Vernon Wells (who, coincidently, was also in the 1986 Australian movie of the same title!) and Jeffrey Combs, who is just great as always. Kurtwood Smith is probably the biggest standout, however, as the maniacal head of the Fortress. This film really features everything you could ever want from a B-movie - constant action, imagination and some hilarious performances. It all boils down to a suitably over the top climax and while this might not be the best film ever made - its one hell of a lot of fun and I certainly recommend it!

hu675 3 September 2008

In the Grim Future on 2017... When the planet is been overpopulated and crimes has been rising. One of the new laws states that a couple are allowed to have one child now, even if the new born baby dies at birth. When John Brenneck (Christopher Lambert) and his wife Karen (Loryn Locklin) broken the law, when his wife finds himself pregnant after losing their first child at birth. When John's wife escapes from the U.S. Border, John finds himself sent in Prison for over 30 years. But this "Fortress" is controlled by a cold hearted if odd Prison Warden Poe (Kurtwood Smith). This prison is very strict, inmate's are controlled by a small explosive devices that are blasted into the digestive system via the throat and robotic controlled security devices that could look into the inmates dreams. Now John and other prisoners (Clifton Collins Jr., Jeffery Combs, Lincoln Kilpartick & Tom Towles) tires to find other ways to escape the Fortress but John finds out that his pregnant wife is captured and is kept in Poe's working area.

Directed by Stuart Gordon (Edmond, Re-Animator, Stuck) made an entertaining high concept low-budget Science Fiction adventure. This is probably the biggest budget that the independent filmmaker Gordon had to work with at $12 Million. Which it was originally going to be a bigger budgeted movie if Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast in the lead but Schwarzenegger went on to do "True Lies" instead. The actors gives good performances (especially Smith) and the feature has some fascinating ideas.

This is update from March 25, 2013 for the Blu-ray. Blu-ray from Echo Bridge has an pretty good anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an fine DTS 2.0 HD Sound. There is no special features from this Blu-ray.

"Fortress" was an box office disappointment, when it was first released in the fall of 1993. But the feature was an international success and the sequel was produced (It was watchable but poorly produced sequel). This is One of Gordon's best movies and it's certainly worth seeing. (****/*****).

Hey_Sweden 22 November 2014

"Fortress" is mostly routine, but enjoyable, futuristic sci-fi from director Stuart Gordon (of "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond" fame). It has an excellent cast of familiar faces that make the most out of what they've got, especially Kurtwood Smith ("RoboCop", 'That 70s Show'). There are acceptable levels of violence and gore, the production design and lighting are adequate, and Gordon does a very fine job with pacing and energy level. The producers originally wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger as the star, but he went on to do "True Lies" instead (it was Ah-nuld that suggested Gordon as the director of this feature).

Some interesting ideas are present in this tale of a husband and wife, John and Karen (Christopher Lambert and Loryn Locklin) who are expecting their second child, despite the fact that the law now forbids couples from having more than one kid. (They tried again because the first child was born dead.) They're caught and sentenced to do time at the "Fortress", a massive, multi leveled high tech prison. It's run by your standard issue sadistic warden, a man named Poe (Mr. Smith). John, forced into an overcrowded cell, makes plans with his cellmates to escape, although this place is supposed to be escape-proof.

Lambert is no better or worse than he usually is. Locklin is reasonably appealing. The supporting cast is pretty eclectic: Lincoln Kilpatrick ("Chosen Survivors", Renny Harlins' "Prison") as Abraham, Jeffrey Combs of the "Re-Animator" series (rocking a shoulder length wig here) as D-Day, Clifton Collins Jr. ("Tigerland", "Pacific Rim") as Gomez, Tom Towles ("House of 1000 Corpses", "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer") as Stiggs, and Vernon Wells ("The Road Warrior", "Commando") as Maddox. That's Gordons' actress wife Carolyn supplying the voice of the computer intelligence Zed-10. Smith, whose character will have some surprises in store, is an effective and not completely one-dimensional antagonist.

"Fortress" hits the ground running, and offers decent entertainment for a fairly trim 95 minute run time.

Seven out of 10.

Bogey Man 2 July 2002

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.

mm-39 5 January 2002

Its about a totalitarian society where people only have one chance at having a kid. They have this futuristic super max, with these ingestible detectors, and a computer mainframe warden. This film is great, watch for the scene with the d day computer virus, it is a classic. The character development, and acting is decent. Worth renting, I love this film.

Jonathan Horner 22 April 2000

Well, here we have another brilliant Christopher Lambert movie but once again it's very underrated. Lambert stars as John Brennick he is an innocent prisoner in a futuristic high-tech prison trying to escape with his wife, there's lots of special effects and blood and guts in this fantastic film. The acting is very good, even though I haven't heard of them apart from Lambert. If you've seen "Lock-Up" starring Stallone, you'll love this!

Overall a brilliant and very entertaining movie, with some surprises in it. My advice is to see this movie, it's good!

Jonathan Horner.

DoubleJayBee 22 March 2014

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 th

Spikeopath 21 June 2011

2017, a dystopian future, and US Army officer John Henry Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife Karen S. Brennick (Loryn Locklin) are expecting a second child. Strict one-child policies forbid any couples having a second child, but the Brennick's first child died at birth so they attempt to get away with a second pregnancy. They are caught trying to cross the border and sent to a maximum security prison that is owned and run by the "MenTel Corporation" A place where dreams are not your own and all thoughts of escape are dealt with severely by futuristic methods unheard of in the civilised world.

You got Connor MacLeod, Herbert West, Clarence J. Boddicker and one of the finest female bottoms in cinema, all crammed into one riotous, hokey and immeasurably fun movie. It probably wont come as much of a surprise to anyone to learn that this Christopher Lambert starrer is not going to have you scratching the cranial matter and pondering the future of mankind. But it does have some interesting ideas both in terms of its prison setting and in the technological advancements used. I mean hey, would you try to escape if you had an intestinal bomb set to go off outside the perimeters? {think The Running Man's neck braces but in your belly}. It can also be said of Fortress that it's not over ambitious, where director Stuart Gordon is aware of his restraints and keeps it simple but sparky, of which this is aided by Lambert buffing up and throwing punches left right and off kilter. Tho nothing much as an actor, Lambert none the less gives the likes of Sly and Arnie a run for their money here and looks every inch and sinew an action hero.

Kurtwood Smith, Jeffrey Combs, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Clifton Collins Jr. and of course,Loryn Locklin's bottom, all add varying degrees of fun and frolics to the occasion. While the set design for the interiors is really rather snazzy. It's B movie berserker time folks, a dystopian world where Christopher Lambert can beat the crap out of blokes twice his size, where half humanoids have flame throwers for arms, and Kurtwood Smith is in charge of a prison. Great fun really, truly. 7/10

Undead_Master 23 October 2002

Fortress is a very underrated sic-fi/action movie made in the early nineties by Stuart Gordon (the maker of re-animator/from beyond/dagon). The story is your standard prison movie formula, only it's set in the future.

The best thing about this film is the suspense of the action sequences. There were several scenes in the movie that literally had me talking to the TV. Nice performances by Jeffery Combs(as a very amusing computer geek type)and Christopher Lambert are a big plus. Kurtwood smith is also great as the prison director.

At the time it was released I was impressed with this film and over time my affection for it has grown (it continues to entertain even after seeing it several times). The main flaws would be the predictability of the plot and some cliché characters, but it's all handled so well that it doesn't really hurt the movie.

It's a good popcorn action movie, and one of my favorite Stuart Gordon Films. In my opinion, this is probably Gordons Second best film, after re-animator.

kimmy8891 29 April 2003

The movie has it all blood and gore, romance, and a lot of butt kicking action. I like this movie because it not only has a great story line but also stars one of my favorite actors (Christopher Lambert). Fortress is a must-see movie.

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