No one can reasonably claim that there is a shortage of prison films (and TV shows). From Cool Hand Luke and The Shawshank Redemption to Orange Is the New Black and Brawl in Cell Block 99, every single aspect of “prison life” has been scrutinized, on screens both small and large. Yet writer/director Paul Kampf seems to think he has something new to bring to the table with his latest drama, subtly titled Imprisoned. Whatever it is, I must have missed it. Borrowing a multitude of staples from those films – the framed hero, the evil warden, the mistreated prisoners – Kampf jumbles them together into an utterly unoriginal stew.
“…goes to extreme lengths to frame Dylan for a murder he did not commit, sending the innocent man back to prison and condemning him to death by hanging.”
Set in Puerto Rico, Imprisoned follows Daniel Calvin (Laurence Fishburne, in shoddy old-man make-up), as he returns to Santiago prison, where he used to serve as the warden. Now dilapidated and on the verge of being demolished, the prison invokes painful memories in Daniel. An apparition warns him that “what [he] did inside that place will live with [him] forever… [echoes] …ever… ever…”
In case you’re wondering what he did – well, the rest of the film takes its sweet time explaining it to you, in one extended flashback. You see, Daniel’s pregnant wife was accidentally murdered by Dylan (Juan Pablo Raba) during a robbery-gone-wrong. Dylan served his time, and now enjoys an idyllic albeit modest life as a fisherman with his own wife, Maria (Juana Acosta). When Daniel finds out about it, he goes to extreme lengths to frame Dylan for a murder he did not commit, consequently sending the innocent man back to prison and condemning him to death by hanging. “I thought I paid for my past, but it doesn’t seem it was enough,” Dylan tells Maria.