Fortress is my kind of film. Don’t hate. Participate… in unironically watching Fortress, a future prison film starring Christopher Lambert. If the description itself doesn’t get your juices flowing then… uh… I guess you shouldn’t watch it. That’s probably a prerequisite to enjoying this film. Alright, shall I do the honors? It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad!
To briefly recap, Lambert and his wife are attempting to escape to Canada. There is an ultra strict one child policy in the United States and even though their first child died they are not allowed to have the second. They would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those damn kids… or more accurately a boneheaded mistake by Lambert. Anywho, he ends up in a future prison deep in the ground in the desert where they put an explosive probe inside you to keep you in line and there are laser beams and robots and stuff. And not just any robot either, it’s a Kurtwood Smith robot/cyborg warden. Word. Lambert is former military so it isn’t long before he gains the trust of everyone and he learns that his wife didn’t make it to Canada like he had hoped. She is being kept captive by Kurtwood himself. Lambert is like “helll noooo” and they form a plan. They incite a riot and are able to overcome the robot guards and make it to the top of the prison. Kurtwood is dispatched by his robot overlords because he kinda screwed everything up by falling in love with Lambert’s smoking hot wife. But before they can dispatch the prisoners, one of them (a real leet haxxor) implants a virus in the prison computer system. With everything shut down, Lambert is able to escape to Mexico where his wife has her baby. Sweet success. THE END.
So this movie is pretty rad. It’s not a work of art or anything, and Lambert is… well, he’s Lambert, but it looks cool and the concept is cool. I don’t have too much to criticize even before gushing about Kurtwood Smith. Not only is he a fun actor, but his character was legit interesting. So he’s a cyborg and suddenly sees Loryn Locklin and is like, “What doth rumble in these robot loins?” He is smitten even though he really doesn’t even know what it all means. They explain that illegal children born in the prison are taken from the mothers and are used to create the cyborgs. So Kurtwood would be such a product. And so I wonder if in some way he is creating his own family. He will save her, the baby will become a cyborg, and truly will become the offspring of he and Locklin. Obviously none of this would have ever happened and it’s secondary to the sci-fi shoot-em-up of the rest of the film, but you have to give them some credit. I’ve thought more about that part of Fortress than I have about critically acclaimed films. So yeah, I think I actually liked this movie. As for Beowulf, the point of the bring-a-friends are to find some weird fun not-quite-theatrical releases to enjoy and enjoy Beowulf I did. It is super duper weird. Like have to be seen to be believed type of weird. Some truly hilarious moments during several of the fight scenes. At one point Lambert gets totally roasted by a CGI monster after doing a thousand backflips in a row. So yeah, mission accomplished.
Finally, Hot Take Clam Bake: Lambert and Karen made a selfish mistake by escaping. So you’re saying that the United States is in such disarray that they have imposed a strict one child policy where you can’t have a miscarriage? And yet Mexico and Canada are going to be totally cool with you guys setting up shop? Unlikely. You, your wife, and a newborn are going to def be on the run. Great life for a child, bro. Guess what is a good life? It’s called cyborg life. If it’s good enough for Kurtwood Smith, it’s good enough for your baby. They got your genes, bro, that cyborg gonna run that prison. Sounds pretty great, cause the rest of the world seems like shit. Hot Take Temperature: Mango Habanero. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Fortress? More like Bore-tress! Amirite? Nope! Because there are two things in life I enjoy: Christopher Lambert, and films set in future prisons. And lo! What do we have here? Let’s go!
- I unironically like this film. Sue me! I wasn’t joking when I said I love films set in future prisons. They are so simple. There is an evil warden (who maybe is a robot). It is some brutal hellscape with prisoners basically just killing each other in a gladiator type setting. There is often a sweet “hook” for the prison design. In this case the prison is a giant pit in the desert, how brutalist of you Prison Director Poe. So modern. So chic. See I love this garbage! It’s great.
- Christopher Lambert … is there. He has an interesting acting quality to him. In many ways he shares some qualities with someone like Seagal. His acting is unique, charming in its own way. When used correctly you get a Highlander or Hard to Kill out of it. But his demise as a star was inevitable. His accent, like with Van Damme, lends a flat quality to the dialogue and eventually you have seen everything he is able to do. By all accounts he’s a delightful person though, and he had a very solid career, so there is no shame.
- Kurtwood Smith on the other hand is maybe the coolest villain actor of that era. With this and Robocop it is incredible that you don’t see the looks-like-a-nerd-but-is-a-horrible-piece-of-garbage-who-will-gladly-shoot-you-in-the-face villain a lot more often. It is incredibly unsettling and sinister when done well. This is no exception.
- The set design is pretty sweet. The prison break idea is pretty sweet. His friends are all pretty sweet! So again, is it any surprise I unironically like this film? This film isn’t bad. What were the critics thinking?! … They were thinking that the film was a downer that focused too much on the fascism and sadism involved in the prison. I mean, maybe fair, but also undeniably entertaining! This film probably won’t qualify in a few years. Book it.
- I’m going to give it a Setting as a Character (Where?) for the future prison, although I could have made a compelling argument that the entire film is specifically set in the Mojave Desert, but I won’t. A great Future Film (When?) for the film taking place in 2017, you mean I missed Fortress year? That’s all for the superlatives, but you know this might be the front runner for Good this year, I don’t see how I don’t continue to think it is amazing six months from now.
- I’ll close with saying that our friend this cycle, Beowulf (1999), is crazy. B-b-b-b-b-b-beowulf is b-b-b-b-b-b-b-bonkers. It is like they had a set from, I don’t know, a medieval Power Rangers knockoff, and were like “You have seven days to make a movie, go!” The first half of the film is a bit boring maybe, but amusing in realizing this odd mismash of future and past is intended to be Beowulf in any capacity at all. And then, oh ho, you get the big battle between Beowulf and Gredel and let’s just say it involves two words: endless backflips. Christopher Lambert’s character can’t just do a dozen backflips in a row, he insists on doing a dozen backflips in a row. Multiple times in this film he does a dozen backflips in a row, often while splashing through ankle deep water. It is hilarious, and makes it all worth it. Close on a bad CGI villain that puts The Scorpion King to shame, and we have a recipe for an incredible friend. A-. If you add one more fight with a dozen backflips near the beginning of the film then this is gold. As it is it is a bit of a struggle to get to the goods. Still worth it though.
Look for the sequel to Fortress Fortress 2: The Raid Prison Break Season 4 in the Quiz. Cheerios,