Rated: R for language, nudity and violence. Reviewed by: Chris Release date: September 3, 1993 Released by: Deminsion Films
Christopher Lambert (Greystoke) is the star of this science fiction thriller, but the Fortress set also stars as an eerie future world full of pain and despair.
The story begins as John (Lambert) and his pregnant wife, Karen are caught trying to cross the United States border into Mexico. A population explosion in the United States has forced a law which makes it illegal to have more than one child. Since Karen's expecting her second, the two are caught and sent to the Fortress, a space age prison.
Located in the desert, the Fortress is 33 stories below ground. Once inside, the prisoners are forced-fed a small transmitter that reads their thoughts, dreams and punishes disobedience by delivering excruciating pain which distends their stomachs a la Aliens. The cells are laser protected and computer monitors follow their every move, admonishing "crime does not pay" before zapping them. No one ever escapes from the Fortress. However, once John discovers that Karen is imprisoned on an upper level, his thoughts are only of their escape.
Kurtwood Smith (Robocop and True Believer) plays Roe, a sadistic humanoid warden who shows some human emotion by falling for Kaen and moving her into his hi-tech quarter.
Director Stuart Gordon has put together a fascinating study of human struggle. The prisoners have to deal with nonstop abuse from both the prison and other inmates, who try to beat one another to a pulp - the violence is continual and graphically gross.
Amid perverse pain and suffering, Fortress focuses on the birth of one baby as a reason for survival and hope.