Of course anything directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon) has to be good. Well he excels himself here. My favorite actor Christopher Lambert (Highlander) is the hero and central character in this film. Another of my favorites, actor Kurtwood Smith (Robocop) is the villain in this film and gives a thoroughly professional performance.
Loryn Locklin is the female lead in this film and she also gives her best performance. A regular in Gordon's film, veteran actor Jeffrey Combs (Re-animator Trilogy, From Beyond) is solid throughout the film and really gets into his role as always. Vernon Wells (Commando, The Road Warriors) makes a short appearance as prisoner Maddox.
Other notable actors in the films are Tom Towles (Halloween 2007), Clifton Collins Jr. (Still Waters) and Lincoln Kilpatrick (Bulletproof).
Lets get on with the plot: Set in a dystopian future the year 2017, in the USA, an ex-US Army officer John Henry Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife Karen S. Brennick (Loryn Locklin) are attempting to cross the border to Mexico to have a second child. Strict one-child policies forbid a second pregnancy, but the couple believe it justified because their first child died at birth.
Brennick is caught (Karen escapes initially) and sentenced to a private maximum security prison that is owned and run by the "MenTel Corporation", for 31 years. The prison is very high security, and to maintain discipline, all inmates are implanted with "Intestinators" which cause pain for violence, minor violations etc., and death in the case of escapees. The prison is co-run by Director Poe, who oversees Zed-10, a computer that monitors day-to-day activities and represents MenTel. The prison itself is located in front of a deep pit that can only be crossed by a retractable bridge, with the prisoners being kept in cells secured by laser walls. However, the prison is also overcrowded.
John is put in a cell with three other convicts -' Abraham, who is awaiting parole; D-Day, a machine and demolitions expert who was turned in by his criminal partners after he destroyed both a bank's safe and its money; Nino Gomez; and Stiggs, a particularly tough inmate who initially tries to extort John, and has a tough friend called Maddox, who is killed in the beginning of the movie.
Brennick also learns his wife has been captured as well and is being held in a separate level of the prison with his unborn child who, being illegal, is now officially owned by the MenTel Corporation and will be confiscated on its birth.
Poe, having become infatuated with Karen, summons her to his quarters telling her that if she lives with him there he will treat John well. She accepts, resolving to help John as best she can. Seeing a diamond map (which would show the prison map using a laser light), she gives it to Abraham to pass on to John, pointing out that Poe was never going to grant parole and was only using the incentive to control him. Meanwhile in their cell, D-Day dismantles the intestinator from Maddox (which he managed to grab when Maddox was shot) and uses a magnetic component to pull out the others.
The next day during their work shift, digging a new level, John's group places their Intestinator on a large air duct and stage a brawl, causing Zed to trigger them and blow open the duct. Poe promptly flushes the duct with steam, however, making it unusable, and sends in "Strike Clones", which are implied to be the result of experimentation with the convicts' illegal babies. Stiggs is killed, and the rest of the group kill a Strike Clone and steal its weapon, which John uses to kill the remaining clones.
Poe, alerted to Karen's betrayal by Zed, orders her taken away for a fatal Caesarean and strangles Abraham (Abraham's Intestinator having been removed).
Hijacking one of the gun turrets (which move up and down the Fortress's various levels), they travel to Zed's control room. Taking Poe hostage, John orders him to release Karen. Though Poe gives the order, Zed refuses to obey, stating that MenTel does not negotiate in hostage situations, and a gun turret under Zed's control shoots Poe. D-Day hacks into Zed and accesses a virus confiscated at the start of his sentence. He is fatally shot by a clone before completing the command, but uses his last moments to activate the virus, causing a systems crash and all automated security to fail. Rescuing Karen just before she gives birth, John and Gomez hijack a truck and escape to Mexico.
Original ending: The original ending of Fortress has been cut from some versions of the film. After reaching Mexico, Brennick, his wife and Gomez end up near a barn where Brennick's wife starts going into labour. Gomez goes out to get a blanket for the baby when it comes, thinking one might be in the truck. The Fortress (or similar) computer manages to establish a remote linkup with the truck by that time, overriding its internal controls -' and the truck suddenly comes to life all on its own. The truck runs Gomez over and kills him. Brennick attacks the truck with the machine gun he procured from one of the Strike Clones. He sets it on fire with the machine gun's flamethrower attachment and it crashes into the barn, exploding. He climbs into the burning ruins and finds his wife -' sitting against an old and rusted tractor, clutching her blanketed baby.
Review by Vivekmaru45 from Kenya from the Internet Movie Database.