Seven years after the brutish but financially successful "Fortress," Christopher Lambert gets to suffer meticulous torture once again in "Fortress 2: Re-Entry." Lock-up this time is in outer space rather than underground, but the m.o. is again escape from a brutal, fascistic penal system offering plenty of beatings and humiliation. Shot in Luxembourg in late '98 and a straight-to-DVD title Stateside, pic is getting token theatrical releases in other territories, including France and the U.K. this month, though cult status looks unlikely second time out.

Seven years after the brutish but financially successful “Fortress,” Christopher Lambert gets to suffer meticulous torture once again in “Fortress 2: Re-Entry.” Lock-up this time is in outer space rather than underground, but the m.o. is again escape from a brutal, fascistic penal system offering plenty of beatings and humiliation. Shot in Luxembourg in late ’98 and a straight-to-DVD title Stateside, pic is getting token theatrical releases in other territories, including France and the U.K. this month, though cult status looks unlikely second time out.

Hiding out in the Canadian backwoods with his wife (Beth Toussaint) and young son (Aidan Rea), John Brennick (Lambert) is recaptured 10 years later by the dastardly Men-Tel Corp. and wakes to find himself in an orbiting prison converted into some kind of factory. As in the original, inmates all have implants that cause excruciating pain if you break the rules.

After unsuccessfully trying to escape and barbecued with solar radiation, Brennick is given a hard time by the other prisoners for having their workload doubled by the prison’s commander, Teller (Patrick Malahide). Hooking up with Resistance babe Elena (Liz May Brice) and some other malcontents, never-say-die Brennick hatches a plot to bypass the space station’s security monitors and escape, just when a vampish Men-Tel exec (Pam Grier, in an extended cameo) arrives to take over from Teller.

Though the movie is less sadistic and pain-centered than the original, script and plot continuity are all over the place, and Lambert, as charmless and unheroic as ever, looks like he’s there just for the paycheck. Most of the reported $10 million budget seems to have gone on the extra-vehicular f/x, which are brief but OK. Inside the ship, the sets have none of the spaciousness of the original pic’s subterranean jail and look positively pinched. New Zealand-born helmer Geoff Murphy punches the clock in routine style.

Fortress 2: Re-Entry

Production

A Columbia TriStar release of a Gower Prods. production, in association with the Carousel Picture Co. (Luxembourg). Produced by John Flock. Executive producers, Romain Schroeder, Tom Reeve. Co-producer, Craig Berenson. Directed by Geoff Murphy. Screenplay, John Flock, Peter Doyle; story, Steven Feinberg, Troy Neighbors, based on characters created by Feinberg, Neighbors.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe color; Technicolor prints), Hiro Narita; editor, James R. Symons; music, Christopher Franke; production designer, Rob Stratfold; costume designer, Cynthia Dumont; sound (Dolby Digital), Maurice Hillier; stunt co-ordinator, Rick Wiessenhaan. Reviewed at Sony Pictures Europe preview theater, London, July 17, 2000. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Christopher Lambert, Pam Grier, Patrick Malahide, Liz May Brice, Willie Garson, Yuji Okumoto, Nick Brimble, Beth Toussaint, David Robertson, Aidan Rea, Anthony C. Hall, Patrick Hastert, John Flock, Carl Chase, Thea Slikboer.
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