September 30, 2001 -- Christopher Lambert (the "Highlander" dude) has had what? maybe two or three good movies and most of the rest are mediocre or worse. "Fortress 2" (also known as Fortress 2: Re-Entry) is in the "or worse" category. Although shot on 35mm stock and screened in other countries, this film apparently went straight to video in the U.S. I picked up the VHS version cheap at a local rental place. I wish I'd gotten my money's worth.
Lambert stars as John Henry Brennick in this sequel to "Fortress." The original film had some interesting ideas in it, like what might happen if the environmentalists ever got control of the government. This film has fewer ideas. It is mostly a prison escape film. This time, the prison is in space. You've got your evil warden and a privately-run orbital prison where corporate greed and sadism are more important than anything else. There is a sympathetic guard and a very evil guard, Sato (Yuji Okumoto of "Pearl Harbor"). Pam Grier ("Jackie Brown," "Ghosts of Mars") appears as an over-the-top queen of evil corporate shark. There are also quite a few scenes of naked women taking showers in the prison (how else are you going to entice teenage boys to watch this turkey?).
The plot has some big holes in it. Why an orbiting prison, when an earthbound one is orders of magnitude cheaper to operate? We have prisoners doing complex technical repairs on the space station, repairs that ought to require a trained astronaut to accomplish. In addition, the story has logical flaws and the characters exhibit motivational inconsistencies. Lambert, who plays the main character, exhibits little emotional range. He's just one of any number of stock action characters in the film. The plot is by the numbers, the dialogue is mostly dull and the attempts at humor based on murder and mayhem don't pan out. The editing is choppy, the special effects and soundtrack are average. It is not so much that the film is incompetently made, it is just a film made on sloppily on the cheap. The film's combination of sex, humor and violence looks like a cynical attempt to capitalize on the unsophisticated juvenile video market. This time-waster rates a D.
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