James Cullen Bressack’s action flick Fortress isn’t a remake of Stuart Gordon’s sci-fi favorite. Instead, the filmmaker reteams with his Survive The Game leads Bruce Willis and Chad Michael Murray for a tale full of revenge, double-crosses, and of course, action. So does Bressack strike lightning, or does his movie bore instead of exhilarate?
Paul (Jesse Metcalfe) is on his way to visit his estranged father, Robert (Bruce Willis), who lives in a retirement home remotely tucked away on a mountain. The two haven’t spoken for three years, though that’s not as shocking as it sounds, as Robert was a largely absent father during his son’s childhood. So why is Paul going to the middle of nowhere to see him after all this time? Well, an important investor in his cryptocurrency-global finance company pulled out, and he needs a quick influx of cash. This is where Robert enters the picture, as he has access to the millions needed.
However, shortly after showing up at the heavily fortified complex, Paul discovers that mercenaries, led by Balzary (Chad Michael Murray), have followed him. The evil leader and his goons will stop at nothing to get what they want. So now it is up to Paul, Robert, facility director Kate (Kelly Greyson), and the stoic Dobbs (Shannen Doherty) to stop the mercs from killing everyone.
“…Paul discovers that mercenaries, led by Balzary, have followed him.”
Alan Horsnail’s script for Fortress comprises of two big action set pieces with character beats sprinkled in between. After the initial set up of tension between father and son, the mercenaries attack. Then there’s the reveal of Robert’s actual career, what the fortress of the title is, and who or what Balzary is after. Then, the big showdown, with, of course, a handful of smaller moments involving secondary characters and betrayals, so there’s a nary a dull moment.
Luckily, the screenwriter has crafted some decent characters with strong relationships. This means that while the plot is none too original (no points for guessing who the mole is nor for already knowing Robert’s profession), viewers are left engaged as they want these characters to escape with their lives. And once again, Bressack shows a natural flair for action, as the combat and shootouts are pretty exciting.
But really, it is the cast that makes Fortress stand out as much as it does. Murray relishes playing the big baddie and comes across as a genuinely threatening presence. Metcalfe is easy to like, and root for throughout, and his chemistry with Greyson is quite strong. Willis is an old hat at roles like this, but he’s still pretty good here, especially in the latter half. But Doherty and Greyson stand out, as both imbue their roles with quite a bit of personality and fun.
Fortress moves at a slick pace, and its action scenes are most thrilling. While the story is standard issue, the actors are having fun, and the whole affair looks better than the budget would suggest. All action film lovers would do well to seek this out as soon as possible.
"…nary a dull moment."