Fortress 2: Re-entry

USA/Luxembourg 1999

Reviewed by Kim Newman


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

US, the near future. Following his escape from a prison run by the Men-Tel corporation, John Brennick has been hiding out with his wife Karen and son Danny. Given away by renegade Nestor, Danny is captured by Men-Tel operatives and imprisoned in a space station. There, all prisoners are implanted with a device which causes them pain if they attempt to escape. Along with fellow inmates, including Rivera, Marcus and Max, Brennick works on various projects for prison govenor Teller. While keeping in contact with his Men-Tel superior Susan Mendenall, Teller is secretly using prison labour to turn the station into a power plant and build a weapons system.

Brennick is discovered attempting to escape. Teller sentences Brennick to solitary confinement. On release, Brennick realises that implants tap into prisoners' optic nerves and allow the guards to monitor their every move. Marcus hacks into the guards' surveillance system and is able to distract them with playback footage of prisoners in the shower. Learning that a group of Russian inmates plan to escape on a shuttle due to arrive the next day, Brennick wins a place on board by agreeing to shut down the central computer system. Brennick manages this but the Russians leave without him; Teller has Brennick ejected into space, but Brennick surives, re-entering the station via an airlock. As the station suffers a power overload, Rivera, Marcus and Mendell - who arrived on the incoming shuttle - board a supply ship. Brennick kills Teller and joins them onboard. Back on Earth, he's reunited with Karen and Danny.


Stuart Gordon's 1992 futuristic prison movie Fortress, shot in Australia, was set in a vast underground complex. This sequel raises the stakes by locating its escape-proof facility - in which dissident John Brennick is imprisoned - in low Earth orbit. The original was silly melodrama spiced up with Gordon's penchant for gruesome gags. This follow-up, whose natural home would seem to be video rental stores rather than local multiplexes, lacks Gordon's wit and grit, though director Geoff Murphy, whose science-fiction achievements include the excellent The Quiet Earth, makes it a decent enough ride.

The fights and tough talk are all straight out of stock and a lot of plot threads are dropped. (We are told, for instance, that the space tug won't survive another re-entry, but that's exactly what it does to provide a happy ending.) The film tries to distract us from its basic shoddiness by throwing in a great many disparate elements, including a heroic cockroach, a monitor system whereby the guards can look through each of the prisoners' eyes, a temperamental computer which frustrates the evil governor, a botched Russian Mafia escape attempt, dangerous work details outside on the solar panels, in-fighting among the corporate masters of humanity, a threat to Brennick's wife and son back on Earth and sci-fi variants on such prison movie favourites as a spell in "the hole" (a pod exposed to the glare of the sun) and the ally who turns out to be a traitor.

Brennick, played by Christopher Lambert, is the stolid central figure, thrown into a multi-racial, co-educational prison population. Everyone else is conceived in similarly clichéd terms, with Patrick Malahide, joining the run of British actors serving as low-rent master villains, as a prissy governor whose career was stalled by the events of the last film. Most of the supporting cast are average in roles that barely have the depth of the computer-game refugees Lambert mixed with in the film Mortal Kombat, though Willie Garson (after appearances on NYPD Blue and The X Files) is carving out a minor reputation for playing snivelling weasels with a sentimental streak. Here, he's a corporate turncoat whose mind-control plug - implanted into all new prisoners - goes awry, making him immune to the prison's pain-infliction system, while also leaving him a wandering idiot.

Considerably less well-used is Pam Grier, who has followed her star turn in Jackie Brown by being tossed back into a series of forgettable roles, here as the company queen who is neither evil nor decent enough to be of much interest and whose lascivious activities don't even get subplot status.


Geoff Murphy
John Flock
John Flock
Peter Doyle
Steven Feinberg
Troy Neighbors
Based on characters created by
Steven Feinberg
Troy Neighbors
Director of Photography
Hiro Narita
James R. Symons
Production Designer
Rod Stratfold
Christopher Franke
©Gower Productions, Inc
Production Companies
Gower Productions presents a John Flock production in association with
The Carousel Picture Company
Executive Producers
Romain Schroeder
Tom Reeve
Craig Berenson
Production Co-ordinator
Rozenn Le Pape
Production Manager
Jean-Claude Schlim
Unit/Facilities Manager
Laurent Dumas
Studio Manager
Paul de Bourcy
Location Manager
Pascal Charlier
Post-production Supervisor
Jack Santry
2nd Unit Director
Tom Reeve
Assistant Directors
J. Tom Archuleta
Ralph Eisenmann
Béatrice Pettovich
Sophie Treacher
Script Supervisor
Sheila McNaught
Karen Rea
Sue Jones
Luxembourg Manager:
Carrie O'Brien
Camera Operators
Alessandro Bolognesi
2nd Camera:
Roger Simonsz
Helimount Operator
Jan Vervaecke
Visual Effects Production/ Supervision
No Prisoners 3DFX, LLC
Rendering Services
Illuvatar, LLC
Wire Removal/Digital Effects
Pacific Title/Mirage
Special Effects
Harry Wiessenhaan
Edward Wiessenhaan
Senior Technician:
Robert Wiessenhaan
Patrick Rappard
Roland Godijin
Rogier Trouw
Don Power
William Karrasch
Supervising Modelmakers
Terry Whitehouse
Nicholas Goodson
Props/Model Makers
Carl Wilson
Christopher Hobbs
Colin Childs
Additional Computer Graphics
Art Directors
Simon Bowles
Nigel Evans
Set Decorator
Claire Grainger
Concept Illustrators
Richard Dolan
James Cornish
Conceptual Artist/ Draftsperson
Keith Slote
Storyboard Artist
Tomislav Findrik
Costume Designer
Cynthia Dumont
Costume Supervisor
Uli Simon
Wardrobe Mistress
Renata Rotrubova
David Myers
Supervisor, Additional:
Lesley Lamont-Fisher
Didier La Vergne
Artist, Additional:
Cathy Folmer
Vivian Nowack
Main/End Titles
Title House
Opticals/Optical Animation
Title House
Optical Line-up Supervisor
Jose Avitia
Music Performed by
The Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra
Alan Wagner
Music Recordist/Producer
Edgar Rothermich
Sound Recording
Maurice Hillier
Digital Mixing Stage Recordist
Mark Kaim
Re-recording Mixers
André Perreault
Stanley Kastner
Derek Marcil
Supervising Sound Editor
Garrard Whatley
Supervising Dialogue Editor
Albert Edmund Lord III
Sound Effects
David Lewis Yewdall
ADR Engineer
Joss Sanglier
Jesse Negron
Jeff Laity
Merrill Whatley
Stunt Co-ordinator
Rick Wiessenhaan
Horse Wrangler
Willy Loedts
Cockroach Wranglers
Pascal Jacqmin
Manu Janssen
Helicopter Co-ordinator
Thierry Soumagne
Helicopter Pilots
Eddy LaCroix
Walter Vlerick
Christopher Lambert
John Brennick
Patrick Malahide
Peter Teller
Liz May Brice
Elena Rivera
Anthony C. Hall
Marcus Jackson
Willie Garson
Stanley Nussbaum
Yuji Okumoto
Fredric Lane
Nick Brimble
Max Polk
Beth Toussaint
Karen Brennick
David Roberson
Nestor Tubman
Aidan Rea
Danny Brennick
Pam Grier
Susan Mendenall
Paul de Bourcy
Eagle Two
Bruce McEwen
mercenary leader
Stephen Shivers
Marius Speller
Eagle One
Mereta Mita
Thea Slikboer
Sally Ho
Carl Chase
Jody Scott
Doctor Nora
Willem de Beukelaer
John Sharian
Valérie Schiel
water tug co-pilot
Robert Hall
Arnita Swanson
John Flock
Patrick Hastert
Peter Riemens
Radica Jovicic
Julian Vincent
Barbara Sarafian
Anthony O'Connell
Gaëtan Wenders
Columbia Tristar Films (UK)
8,329 feet
92 minutes 33 seconds
Dolby Digital
Colour by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011