STARRING: Christopher Lambert, Beth Toussaint, Willie Garson, Patrick Malahide, Pam Grier

1999, 92 Minutes, Directed by: Geoff Murphy

Description: Christopher Lambert reprises his role as John Brennick, former leader of the Resistance and thorn in the side of the MEN-TEL corporation. In the first movie, Brennick escaped from and destroyed MEN-TEL's high-tech "inescapable" prison. In the 10 years since then, he's gotten himself a house in the woods and some horses, and has illegally procreated with his wife. When Resistance members find him and try to recruit him back into the cause, the bad guys are not far behind, and after some two-dollar action scenes he finds himself captured and thrown into MEN-TEL's brand-new prison, which happens to be orbiting the Earth. Surely, nobody could ever escape from this! Except maybe, just maybe John Brennick!

"Fortress 2?" my wife asked. "I can't remember us ever having seen the first one." After explaining we did, she could only remember vague details: the Christopher (Highlander) Lambert character and his wife being arrested and incarcerated for having more than one child and branded with a bar-code in a future totalitarian system. Or is it just for having a child per se? The details escape me as well.

Anyhow, she'd probably have just a tough time recalling ever having seen this rehash of a sequel. This time Lambert is sent to a prison in outer space, a station orbiting the earth, for blowing up power stations. Power stations? Sure, who has never felt like it after seeing their electricity bills? The prison is run by the private sector and not the State. You wouldn't guess it watching the movie: the prison authorities seem as incompetent and stupid as any government bureaucracy I have ever experienced.

"The usual clichés . . ."

The usual clichés ensue. There's the good guard and the sadistic one. The warden has a special interest in Lambert, although the details are unclear: I suspect you'd probably have a better idea why if you can remember Fortress better. There are some both sexes sharing the same shower facilities shots as seen in Starship Troopers to sneak in some female topless nudity (which isn't half bad). This time around there are some harebrained gimmicks involving a camera mounted on the back of a huge cockroach (this isn't half as interesting as it sounds) that remind one of a substandard episode of McGyver.

The acting is bad and Lambert looks even more out of place than he did in all the other straight-to-video crud he has recently appeared in (such as Beowulf). Some effects and sets are OK-ish, while some shots of the computer-generated space station make those in the ancient Tron look good in comparison. The script and dialogue is rotten. Towards the end the movie is in such a rush to end that nothing makes any sense whatsoever.

Leave this one to gather dust on the video shelves.



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