|Directed by||Stuart Gordon|
|Produced by||John Davis
|Written by||Troy Neighbors
Clifton Collins, Jr.
|Music by||Frédéric Talgorn|
Village Roadshow Pictures
|Distributed by||Dimension Films|
|Release date(s)||September 3, 1993 (USA)|
|Running time||91 min.|
|Followed by||Fortress 2: Re-Entry|
Fortress is a 1993 science fiction film directed by Stuart Gordon and shot at Warner Brothers Movie World in Queensland, Australia. The story takes place in a dystopian future. The main character in the movie, John Henry Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife Karen B. Brennick (Loryn Locklin) are sent to a maximum security prison because they are expecting a second child, which is against strict one-child policies.
Set in a dystopian future the year 2017, in the USA, the 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 a second pregnancy, but the couple attempts it anyway because their first child died at birth.
Brennick is caught (Karen escapes initially) and sent to a maximum security prison that is owned and run by the "MenTel Corporation", rather than the government. Security is extreme in the prison; it is located 30 floors under ground, in the center of a desert. 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.
John Brennick is not allowed to dream in his sleep, and is tortured by a sadistic prison director (Kurtwood Smith). Brennick also learns his wife has been captured as well and is being held in another level of the prison with his unborn child now officially owned by the MenTel Corporation (the company seems to use these children to create cyborgs).
Fortunately, prison director Poe has an eye on Brennick’s wife, Karen. Brennick befriends a computer geek, D-Day (Jeffrey Combs), who finds a way to remove the special “intestinator” chips that are implanted in each prisoner’s intestines, and can cause great pain and even explode when set off by the security system. He also manages to convince fellow inmate Abraham (Lincoln Kilpatrick) that Poe will never allow his parole, and is only using it as a carrot on a stick.
After uploading a virus on the AI computer warden Zed-10 (voice by Carolyn Purdy-Gordon), the group manages to escape. The Brennicks flee to Mexico, where they have the baby (Annika Thomas).
The original ending of Fortress has been cut from some versions of the film. After taking one of the Men-Tel trucks to escape into 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.
Stephen Holden of The New York Times said: "Like so many other futuristic movies, Fortress is a lot better at setting up its premise than in developing a story around it, [but] for all its faults, [it] has an unusually energetic imagination. At its best, it blends RoboCop, The Handmaid's Tale, and Brave New World into something scary, original and grimly amusing."
Nathan Shumate of Cold Fusion Video Reviews said: "It’s a good little film, kept very interesting by a multitude of plot twists. [...] The beauty of this movie is that it’s not terribly ambitious; [director Stuart] Gordon knew that it was not meant to be this generations’s defining science fiction film, and so instead had fun with it. The characters are colorful and engaging, and the actors are b-movie all-stars; the story moves along at a fair clip; and the prison itself is a novel setting, with plenty of inconsistencies in future technology but none that sit up and insist that you notice them."
James Berardinelli of ReelViews said: "Fortress has [...] an impressive visual style, [...] the set design is excellent, and the action scenes are well-paced, [but it's] hampered by a poorly-constructed storyline [and] never gets on track. Instead of entering the rarefied atmosphere inhabited by such films as Aliens and the original Terminator, it falls in line with the likes of Freejack and Alien 3."