Year: 1993

Production: Fortress Films / Village Roadshow / Davis Entertainment

Director: Stuart Gordon

Starring: Christopher Lambert, Loryn Locklyn, Kurtwood Smith, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez, Jeffrey Combs

Screenwriter: Steve Feinberg, Troy Neighbors

91 minutes; Color

A futuristic prison movie, with bits and pieces of Zero Population Growth (1971), Terminal Island (1973), Turkey Shoot (1982), Ghosts ... of the Civil Dead (1988), Warlock (1991) and Alien3 (1992) floating around in the multi-authored script stew.

In a fascist future, America has strict population control laws: hero Lambert and wife Locklyn are sentenced to 31 years apiece in an underground prison when they try to have a second baby after the death of their first. The social speculation is got out of the way quickly in the first minutes and then Gordon gets down to the business of replaying prison movie cliches. In the escape-proof fortress, inmates are injected with a gadget which causes extreme pain or can be exploded. Logic takes a back seat to gruesome effects: the intestinators are implanted in the stomach rather than the head or the heart simply so there can be an ucky sequence in which the good guys get rid of the devices by magnetically working them up through gullets.

Despite laser bars and robot guards, things are much as in most penitentiary pictures: weaselly informants, a sadistic warden (Smith), thuggish would-be rapists, an imprisoned genius (Combs), lots of fistfights and a big break-out at the end. The villain, the cyborg warden who realizes he too is imprisoned in the fortress, is not only more interesting than the hero but more sympathetic, with Smith turning in a performance that easily eclipses Lambert's franglais machismo. It is also strange that after stressing the escape-proof claustrophobia ofthe setting the movie should opt for a finale out in the wide open spaces where Lambert tackles a monster truck. An honest B picture that functions well on its own comic book terms.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - Science Fiction

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