"The Men-Tel Corporation has transformed me into a more efficient human being. Once a month, I absorb amino acids, wasting neither food nor fuel. When my kind are in the majority, there will be no more world hunger, no over-population."
- Prison Director Poe (Kurtwood Smith) to Karen Brennick (Loryn Locklin)
"Crime does not pay."
- Zed-10, the Men-Tel Corporation computer
New York Times - 09/04/1993
"...[Contains] one of the more ingenious fantasies of high-tech fiendishness to be seen in films recently....FORTRESS has an unusally energetic imagination..."
Director Stuart Gordon's contribution to the I've-seen-the-future-and-it-sucks genre, FORTRESS is a creative and rousing sci-fi adventure. It's 2018, and America is facing a terrible overpopulation crisis. To solve the problem, a strict limit has been set on the number of children a family can have: one. When John Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife, Karen (Loryn Locklin), lose their infant son, they try to have another illegally. However, they're caught and sent off to the Fortress, a supermaximum security prison from which escape is impossible. Despite the robot guards, the laser beams, the mindscanners, and the death devices planted in all inmates' stomachs, Brennick plans an escape with his wife anyway. Lambert is excellent as Brennick, the only reasonable man in an unreasonable world. Locklin is good as Karen, his wife and equal in strength of mind and will. Kurtwood Smith is gleefully evil as the sadistic prison director who is as emotionless as the machines that control him. Gordon imparts his graphic and detailed visual style to the film, as well as his usual strengths of strong character development and solid storytelling. FORTRESS is a great sci-fi escape movie that recalls THE RUNNING MAN and other prison-break films.
Description by Lions Gate Home Entertainment:
After losing their first baby, John and Karen Brennick dare to have another. Caught trying to cross the border, the ex-war hero and his pregnant wife are sentenced to a sadistic futuristic prison buried 33 stories beneath the earth. Computers control inmates' bodies and minds, and newborn infants are being used to create a new breed of human robots. No one has ever gotten out alive. But not even the most overwhelming technology can extinguish one man's passionate love for his wife and child.
As the penalty for trying to have a second child in the over-populated world of the year 2017, war hero John Brennick and his wife, Karen, are condemned to the Fortress, an underground maximum security prison run by the computers of the Men-Tel Corporation. While Brennick is forced to do hard labor in the high-tech prison, the director of the institution takes a personal interest in Karen, hoping to use her pregnancy to breed an enhanced human. To save his wife, Brennick must overcome the control exerted by the computer and find a way out of the Fortress.
Theatrical release: March 1993.
Shot in Queensland, Australia.
The film is dedicated to the memory of Paul Gantner.