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Excellent futuristic fantasy!
The_Void5 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!
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Another Cult Favorite from Professional B Filmmaker:Stuart Gordon.
hu6753 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. (****/*****).
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Crime does not pay.
Hey_Sweden22 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.
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Interesting sci-fi from Stuart Gordon
Bogey Man2 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.
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Interesting Story
mm-395 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.
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Another under-rated film!
Jonathan Horner22 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.
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Surprisingly good for a cheap 90's action film
DoubleJayBee22 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 then it well may have turned out like that. But it has some depth - beyond the exploding bodies and in places absent acting there is thought. If anything, I'd liken it to a Paul Verhoeven film - entertaining, but still immersive, maybe even though provoking.
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Futuristic riot!
hitchcockthelegend21 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
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Using sci-fi stratagem to make political statements.
Spike-6515 August 1999
Warning: Spoilers
***Possible Spoiler Attached*** * * *

At first glance this film is just another sci-fi flick with a mediocre plot and sometimes dull dramatics. The pundits have been less than generous with their praise, of a movie that fails to deliver what the trailers promise. Fortunately it has a few redeeming features.

The premise of a society with boundaries on conception is not a new one, infact at the time when this film was released, China was very much in the news for limiting couples to one child only. But while trying to deal with a very real scenario, albeit in the 'global' future, the film crew and management had their own brush with Australian authorities regarding the use of 'local' talent preferentially on the Aussie set. Despite the associated delays and bad press, the film was completed, much to the delight of sci-fi aficionados.

Christophe Lambert portrays an ex-marine John Brennick who's wife Karen (played ably by Loryn Locklin) is expecting her second child. Their first child died and during an attempt to cross the border into Mexico, the land of the free(sic), they are taken prisoner. Transported to an underground prison, they fight technology, hard labour (no pun intended) and a prison warden called Poe (believably evil and portrayed by Kurtwood Smith). It would seem that Poe has been reading too many of his namesake's books, leading to a rather deviant bent, a lust for married women and psychedelic dreams, plus (due to genetic enhancement) the inability to hold his drink.

Once Brennick decides he's had enough, he attempts a breakout, with his cell-mates in tow. One by one they are eliminated by various cyborgs, until there is just the Brennicks and Nino (Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez) heading for the border in the truck that brought them all to the prison. The ending is a little bland, with one version showing the Brennicks and baby, while the other shows Nino being terminated by the truck. Does this all sound a little implausible?'s sci-fi.... what else do you expect?

Actually, once you get past the bad acting by some of the Aussies and some very plastic props, the film isn't that bad. It deals with complex social issues; those of overpopulation (which generally means first world values foisted on third world countries), incarceration in prisons run by private companies (a concept currently being adopted world-wide), and the love of a man for his wife and child.

Christophe and Kurtwood are both capable of creating stylised characters, something they succeed in doing (shame that Kurtwood later lost the plot in That 70's Show). If you are into sci-fi, future-world or true kick-arse action, then watch it.
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Highly entertaining film!
Undead_Master23 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.
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It's great
kimmy889129 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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Futuristic prison film is a highlight of the cheesy B-movie genre
Leofwine_draca19 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Imagine a version of those classic prison movies - PAPILLON, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION - updated violently into a futuristic setting and what you'll have is FORTRESS, a gung-ho ride full to the brim of action. And it's a blast. The feel of the film is very similar to that of TOTAL RECALL, and the pair are almost companion pieces. While relatively low budget, the film has something rarely seen these days - imagination! What makes the film so enjoyable to horror aficionados is firstly the talent involved, and secondly the level of extreme violence which certainly spices up the action. Since when did you see one of the prisoners in THE GREAT ESCAPE have his stomach blown out? Christopher Lambert will never win any awards for acting but he is a solid enough presence as the film's hero and his wooden acting is on par with other luminaries like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Doug McClure, how we love them all. And really he is given little to do except fight one thing after another, which of course he does with relish.

Locklin brings warmth and compassion to the film as his wife and shows probably the best acting in the entire film, but since when did we watch these kinds of films for acting anyway? Kurtwood Smith steals the overacting awards as the oily prison head, strangely his toupee makes him look years younger. Although this isn't the nastiest, best performance of his career (that honour goes to ROBOCOP), he makes for a compassionate villain, a man with a longing for love.

A motley bunch make up Lambert's cellmates, which include a wise old black guy, Tom Towles (the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake) bringing cult value as a brutal thug type, while horror star Jeffrey Combs is virtually unrecognisable underneath thick glasses and long hair. Still, it's not really the acting talent that makes this film so enjoyable, or the plot, which is as I said is merely an updated version of the old escape films. The set design is excellent, and the various mechanical hazards, including the roving cameras and laser beams, the psychedelic dream sequences and also the androids, while tacky, are all great fun. Weirdness prevails when an android's helmet is removed, revealing the rubbery, half-human face underneath! The main gore highlights are the intestinators, kind of like an updated ALIEN chestburster for the 1990s, and they are literally showstoppers. We haven't seen this kind of gut busting since the cheapo days of CONTAMINATION! Added to this are a man who has his chest literally blown out, an extraordinarily bloody fight scene (probably the bloodiest I've ever witnessed on screen, as people's heads are smashed into walls, bars, etc. and spray and pour blood like a low-rent Bruce Willis from the DIE HARD series), a man ripping out his own eyes, and lots of shooting and chests erupting with bullet holes.

The bookend to the film, a pyrotechnic stunt involving an exploding truck, is also done very well. FORTRESS certainly was never likely to win any Oscars, but the non-stop action, cheesy dialogue and inventive situations, all presided over by steadfast direction from Stuart Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR), make this one hell of a bloody roller-coaster ride. The prison movie to end all prison movies in the cheesy B-movie fan's mind.
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this website is tarnished because of backward reviewers
guyguy-240-61438216 December 2011
the only reason why I am not giving this movie a 10 is because nothing is perfect..I would rather watch this movie over 95 percent of garbage that is brought to modern cinema's. This movie was very well put together from the underground prison facility to the artificial intelligence from which it operates, not to mention the twisted prison director who basks in his authority, hell it makes you feel as if you are in the shoes of the main character actor Christopher Lambert(a legend in my eyes). Another reason why this movie is so incredible is that the scenario/plot is one which could be very plausible in a futuristic world, truly gripping the mind and kept me wanting more, this one is right up there with classic's like total recall and I recommend it to anyone with the ability to see.
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A classic sci-fi movie
Seagalogist24 February 2010
As I child, my parents let me watch all sorts of violent movies and I really can't thank them enough for it. I will name a few that stayed in the memory to this day: Speed, Hard Boiled, Under Siege 1 and 2, Terminator 2, Highlander, Braveheart and this movie, Fortress.

Fortress stars Christopher Lambert in his best role (yes, even better than Highlander). In the future you can't have more than one child or something like that and he and his wife are sent to a new super prison where escape is impossible, or so it seems!

I have a problem with the tagline 'the only thing it couldn't hold was an innocent man'. Lambert is not innocent. His wife is pregnant again and no matter how stupid the law is, he broke it. So I suppose the only thing it can't hold is a group of guys who plot to escape using the explosive stomach bombs that are planted in them on arrival. Yes, you heard correctly, stomach bombs! If you go out side the perimeter...BOOM!

Kurtwood Smith makes a great turn as the Head of the Prison, and as the pawn of the complex computer system that runs THE FORTRESS!

I loved this movie as a kid, and I watched it recently. Guess what? I still love it. It's got character to make up for it's clichés and a whole bunch of originality to make up for Lambert's French-Canadian-Lambert accent. His acting is what I call Lambertesque.

The non stop action makes this movie a great watch for any 1) man 2) fan of 80s/90s action 3)Lambert fan 4)Anyone open minded

I highly recommend it.
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An excellent and exciting futuristic prison winner
Woodyanders15 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In a grim totalitarian near future married couples are allowed to have only one kid. John Brennick (a solid and engaging performance by Christopher Lambert) and his pregnant wife Karen (well played by the fetching Loryn Locklin) get arrested for trying to have a second child. They are both sent to a brutal subterranean maximum security penitentiary run by the cruel Prison Doctor Poe (a splendidly wicked Kurtwood Smith). Of course, John plans to escape and take Karen with him. Director Stuart Gordon relates the absorbing story at a brisk pace, does an expert job of maintaining a tough, gritty tone throughout, and stages the thrilling action scenes with rip-roaring verve (the climactic jailbreak sequence in particular is quite tense and stirring). The uniformly ace acting from a tip-top cast qualifies as another significant asset: Lambert and Locklin make for sympathetic leads, Smith excels in one of his customary bad guy roles, plus there are stellar supporting performances by Jeffrey Combs as flaky, bespectacled computer whiz D-Day, Lincoln Kilpatrick as wise trustee inmate Abraham, Tom Towles as mean roughhouse bully Stiggs, Vernon Wells as vicious top con Maddox, and Clifton Collins, Jr. as scrappy young punk Nino Gomez. David Eggby's fluid, polished cinematography, the nifty special effects, Frederic Talgorn's moody, rousing score, and a few dollops of grisly gore are all on the money effective and impressive. A very cool and satisfying science fiction film.
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Passable Science Fiction/Prison movie with high-tech effects and lots of action
ma-cortes1 December 2004
The film deals upon a happy family (Christopher Lambert and Loryn Locklyn), then Lambert is imprisoned because another son was born and in the future it's prohibited . John Brennick is incarcerated in a modern electronic prison called the "Fortress" where the inmates are controlled by lasers , cameras , mind-scanners , neutron-cannons and other electronic artifacts . Prison chief (Kurtwood Smith , in the sequel he was replaced by Patrick Malahide , though he was considered for the role) is a villain who punishes to inmates with tortures and using cruel tech-security measures . Christopher Lambert along with other prisoners (Jeffrey Combs , Vernon Wells and Tom Towles) will face off the director and his henchmen .

This thriller picture blends suspense , violence , drama , action pace , struggles and a little bit of gore when the murders happen , including technological pain-causing artifacts in their stomachs . Dealing with a thorny theme , illegal babies during strict controls on over-population and a private corporation bent on mind control in inmates by very various as well as violent ways . The final confrontation between the starring and baddies is stimulating and has some extraordinary surprises . Decent acting by Christopher Lambert as John Brennick , he replaced originally cast Arnold Schwarzenegger who dropped out to do another boxofficed film : True lies . Good support cast , such as as Jeffrey Combs , Vernon Wells and Tom Towles .

Runtime film is adequate , it is fast moving and is neither boring, nor tiring , but bemusing . Good cinematography , being filmed at Warner Brothers Movie World in Queensland , Australia . The flick was professionally directed by Stuart Gordon . He is a successful writer/producer/director who has directed some hits . As first major success , Re-Animator (1985) , based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft , which won a Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival . Gordon then helmed another Lovecraft adaptation From Beyond (1986) and tackled the murderous Dolls (1987) followed by Robot Jox (1989). And other terror movies as The pit and the pendulum , and the screenplays : The Dentist and Body Snatchers . The ¨Fortress¨ motion picture obtained success enough and originated a second part which is similar to previous with the difference that is developed in a space station prison and the cast is similar , adding Pam Grier . The film will appeal to Science fiction fans and action-packed enthusiasts . Rating : 6/10 , acceptable .
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Highly underrated
deanren1981-92-49282627 December 2018
A great Sci fi film from the early 90's. I remember it as a kid. I've always liked Christopher lambert. And I've always loved this film. Highly recommended.
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A great sci-fi movie staring Christopher Lambert
Rautus16 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I remember seeing Fortress and Fortress 2: Re-Entry for a bargain of £1,00 each so I though okay. I'm a fan of Lambert in the Highlander films and the plot seemed interesting so I bought them both. I watched it and loved it, it may be a low-budget film but it was great.

Lambert does a great performance as John Brennick a man sent to the Fortress because he wanted another kid with his wife Karen. The law in the future says you can have only one child and that's it.

Kurtwood Smith does an equally great performance as the warden Poe, who gets pleasure out of watching the inmates sexual dreams but dreams are not allowed in the Fortress. Each prisoner is implanted with a device that shocks them if they break the rules and also kill them if they misbehave too much.

Jeffery Combs is good as D-Day a computer genius, his performance in Re-Animator was great too.

Fortress is a great sci-fi film that wont disappoint. 10/10
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Slightly above average, good enough to watch if you're into the genre
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews21 June 2004
First of all, lets get one thing straight: Christopher Lambert makes B-movies. I've never seen him in anything that wasn't a B-movie, and as far as I know, he hasn't done one single non-B-movie for his entire career. This particular B-movie, however, is more interesting and entertaining than that of the typical B-movie; the story revolves around a few people in the not-too-distant future(the year 2017, if I remember correctly) who are in a futuristic gigantic prison, which is said to be impossible to break out of. So, naturally they try to break out. The plot is OK, it moves along at a pretty good pace, never really loses your interest or bores you. The acting is all bad, but what do you expect from a B-movie? It has plenty of action to keep you distracted from the horrid acting, so it probably won't bother that many people. The characters are all cliches, but, again, what do you expect? The action and sci-fi parts of the film are reasonably entertaining, and pretty good for a B-movie. The film depicts a gloomy futuristic fascist world, but that's nothing that hasn't been seen many times before. All in all, a pretty typical B-movie, just a notch higher in quality than most others. I recommend it to fans of action/sci-fi B-movies and/or Christopher Lambert. 6/10
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A Warning or A Prophesy
deanofrpps9 July 2004
When this film came out the idea of massive imprisonments in the US seemed remote. In the past there may have been a will to oppress but it was counter-balanced or diffused by ineffectiveness or inefficiency of the government. Technology has provided athe means; political crises have strengthened the will.

In the volitile political climate inside the US one can easily see how a regime could get out of hand and with the use of technology start mass imprisonments and keep inmates in line with thought control and torture, here for a second pregnancy.

The danger with making films of this nature is not that it envisions a brave new world which those of good conscience should work to avoid but that it might inspire those personalities like that of Prison Director Poe (Kurtwood Smith) to the means and methods of more effective repression.

Do works in the bleak Orwellian futuristic 1984 genre warn or provide a model for action? Is fortress a warning or a prophesy?

See the film.
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A superb film in all aspects and one that I proudly own on DVD.
Vivekmaru4517 February 2011
Of course anything directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon) has to be good. Well he excels himself here. My favorite actor Christopher Lambert (Highlander) is the hero and central character in this film. Another of my favorites, actor Kurtwood Smith (Robocop) is the villain in this film and gives a thoroughly professional performance.

Loryn Locklin is the female lead in this film and she also gives her best performance. A regular in Gordon's film, veteran actor Jeffrey Combs (Re-animator Trilogy, From Beyond) is solid throughout the film and really gets into his role as always. Vernon Wells (Commando, The Road Warriors) makes a short appearance as prisoner Maddox.

Other notable actors in the films are Tom Towles (Halloween 2007), Clifton Collins Jr. (Still Waters) and Lincoln Kilpatrick (Bulletproof).

Lets get on with the plot: Set in a dystopian future the year 2017, in the USA, an ex-US Army officer John Henry Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife Karen S. Brennick (Loryn Locklin) are attempting to cross the border to Mexico to have a second child. Strict one-child policies forbid a second pregnancy, but the couple believe it justified because their first child died at birth.

Brennick is caught (Karen escapes initially) and sentenced to a private maximum security prison that is owned and run by the "MenTel Corporation", for 31 years. The prison is very high security, and to maintain discipline, all inmates are implanted with "Intestinators" which cause pain for violence, minor violations etc., and death in the case of escapees. The prison is co-run by Director Poe, who oversees Zed-10, a computer that monitors day-to-day activities and represents MenTel. The prison itself is located in front of a deep pit that can only be crossed by a retractable bridge, with the prisoners being kept in cells secured by laser walls. However, the prison is also overcrowded.

John is put in a cell with three other convicts — Abraham, who is awaiting parole; D-Day, a machine and demolitions expert who was turned in by his criminal partners after he destroyed both a bank's safe and its money; Nino Gomez; and Stiggs, a particularly tough inmate who initially tries to extort John, and has a tough friend called Maddox, who is killed in the beginning of the movie.

Brennick also learns his wife has been captured as well and is being held in a separate level of the prison with his unborn child who, being illegal, is now officially owned by the MenTel Corporation and will be confiscated on its birth.

Poe, having become infatuated with Karen, summons her to his quarters telling her that if she lives with him there he will treat John well. She accepts, resolving to help John as best she can. Seeing a diamond map (which would show the prison map using a laser light), she gives it to Abraham to pass on to John, pointing out that Poe was never going to grant parole and was only using the incentive to control him. Meanwhile in their cell, D-Day dismantles the intestinator from Maddox (which he managed to grab when Maddox was shot) and uses a magnetic component to pull out the others.

The next day during their work shift, digging a new level, John's group places their Intestinator on a large air duct and stage a brawl, causing Zed to trigger them and blow open the duct. Poe promptly flushes the duct with steam, however, making it unusable, and sends in "Strike Clones", which are implied to be the result of experimentation with the convicts' illegal babies. Stiggs is killed, and the rest of the group kill a Strike Clone and steal its weapon, which John uses to kill the remaining clones.

Poe, alerted to Karen's betrayal by Zed, orders her taken away for a fatal Caesarean and strangles Abraham (Abraham's Intestinator having been removed).

Hijacking one of the gun turrets (which move up and down the Fortress's various levels), they travel to Zed's control room. Taking Poe hostage, John orders him to release Karen. Though Poe gives the order, Zed refuses to obey, stating that MenTel does not negotiate in hostage situations, and a gun turret under Zed's control shoots Poe. D-Day hacks into Zed and accesses a virus confiscated at the start of his sentence. He is fatally shot by a clone before completing the command, but uses his last moments to activate the virus, causing a systems crash and all automated security to fail. Rescuing Karen just before she gives birth, John and Gomez hijack a truck and escape to Mexico.

Original ending : The original ending of Fortress has been cut from some versions of the film. After reaching Mexico, Brennick, his wife and Gomez end up near a barn where Brennick's wife starts going into labour. Gomez goes out to get a blanket for the baby when it comes, thinking one might be in the truck. The Fortress (or similar) computer manages to establish a remote linkup with the truck by that time, overriding its internal controls — and the truck suddenly comes to life all on its own. The truck runs Gomez over and kills him. Brennick attacks the truck with the machine gun he procured from one of the Strike Clones. He sets it on fire with the machine gun's flamethrower attachment and it crashes into the barn, exploding. He climbs into the burning ruins and finds his wife — sitting against an old and rusted tractor, clutching her blanketed baby.

10/10. Buy it on DVD NOW!!!
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Fun, but lacking a few things
BroadswordCallinDannyBoy15 October 2006
A man and his wife are caught trying to escape the totalitarian government that rules the future USA. Their crime: having a second child. Their punishment: confinement in a large underground facility that monitors the inmates right down to their thoughts. Brennick soon becomes determined to find a way of the facility.

Directed by Stuart Gordon, the man responsible for the visceral cult classic "Re-Animator," has given this film much of that same punch. And that is what partly makes "Fortress" quite a fun watch despite its many limitations. The pacing is quite good and keeps things moving along. The character angles are decent and the overall design is nicely innovative and not overdone with a fake gloss. However, the film does fall a bit on its face with providing any sort of metaphor or truly thought provoking science fiction. You've kind of seen all this before in some form or another and the biggest disappointment is the abrupt and sappy ending. "Re-Animator" had a very nice and catchy ending so I thought Gordon would have another surprise like that waiting here, but sadly there is none.

But that aside, this is an enjoyable film and seeing those early 90s computer effects at work is always fun, especially since the ones here never try to outrun themselves. Fun stuff, save for the ending. 7/10

Rated R: graphic violence, and profanity
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Great Genre Flick
jmatrixrenegade6 November 2010
This is not a great work of art but it is a great work of popcorn eating genre watching. Everyman against evil corporation in a scary future.

Shades of Margaret Atwood for those who might not know who she is. ["The Handmaid's Tale is worth reading or watching -- it is quite readable Atwood, the film pretty good too.] The film should not be confused with a lesser known foreign genre flick by the same name about a schoolteacher trying to escape a different kind of danger with her school children. Again, both the film and book is worthwhile.

Anyway, so, a man (Christopher Lambert, perfect genre everyman) has to escape from a prison to save his wife with the help of the likes of Jeffrey Combs (taking a break from trying to bring things to life) against the evil Kurtwood Smith (of course!). Great for late night viewing. Don't take too seriously!
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uneven sci-fi prison flick
sswenson24 August 2000
A man tries to escape a brutally efficient, corporate-run prison of the future. Muddled sci-fi sub plot, wooden main character and bland special effects, however, first-rate supporting cast and plot concepts make the film worth seeing. (Rating: B+)
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Fun escape movie with dark premise
phanthinga28 December 2018
Fortress is the second time director Stuart Gordon tip his toes into the action genre and compared this one to his giant robot movie Robot JoxI I must say I prefer Fortress more when on the surface it look like one of your typical " Escape from something" type of movie but beneath that simple premise the movie freaked the hell out of me with it unsettling sub plot about population control. Christopher Lambert is not an idea lead man to be the lead role in action movie but this time he done a good job to convince me as he pull out some quite decent action scene and one of his companion named D-Day played by Jeffrey Combs also very fun to watch
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