(Stuart Gordon, USA, 1993)


Fortress has been unfairly maligned in some quarters as a brainless sci-fi action movie and, even worse, yet another example of an American takeover of Australian facilities and resources.

Shot in Queensland and produced in association with Village Roadshow, it is certainly modelled for the international market – with an American director (Stuart Gordon), and a cosmopolitan star in Christopher Lambert. Moreover, its classic movie setting – a hi-tech prison of the future – is of the kind that depends on no specific national or cultural references.

No one could reasonably deny, however, that Fortress is a quite well written, directed and acted film. All its generic elements are perfectly familiar: a future run on surveillance and repression; the innocent, honourable hero against the nasty, state system; the band of one-dimensional secondary characters redeemed or discarded by the plot according to their strict function.

Every item is realised in a vivid, economical way, with a pleasing number of twists, reversals and cliffhangers.

Fortress is strongly recommended to action movie aficionados.

© Adrian Martin June 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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