"Built to hold anything . . . except an innocent man."
Steven Y. | Marvel Universe 616 | 10/18/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You know all those anonymous video box covers you see when you walk down the aisle at the video store? Well, most of them are direct-to-video productions and aren't worth a second look. Some of them are films made with modest budgets that got a limited theatrical release. Most of them are horrible which helps to explain why they left the theaters so quickly. However, once in blue moon one of these obscure "lost" films actually manages to surprise. Stuart Gordon's "Fortress" is one of those rare finds. The population in the United States in the early 21st century has increased beyond control. In an attempt to solve the problem, the government has passed a law that limits a woman to only one child. However, John Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife Karen (Loryn Locklin) run afoul of the authorities when they try to have a second child to replace their firstborn who died as an infant. Imprisoned for their crime, the couple is sent to a maximum security prison called The Fortress and are tormented by its despotic director, Poe (Kurtwood Smith). "Fortress" is neither a completely original film nor one that has had a tremendous influence on the medium. It is quite simply an odd film that somehow works despite its limited production values and its lack of big-name stars. As with most science fiction films set in the near future, "Fortress" paints a rather bleak view of the years to come. Those looking for a nightly rental that has some deep meaning to it might enjoy the film's cautionary messages on overpopulation and private-sector prison administration. Yet, the film also satisfies as a breezy time-killer for those who find themselves with free time on their hands and nothing else to watch. Either way, "Fortress" fits the bill."