Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff star in this prison movie that places more emphasis on fight scenes than it does on the myriad issues it raises—plea bargains, the prison system, etc. Dorff’s Wade Porter is convicted of involuntary manslaughter after he kills an intruder, and Kilmer’s John Smith, a mass murderer and lifer, is Wade’s cellmate. Kilmer and Dorff are both far better actors than this film deserves, but they do what they can with a script that doesn’t offer much in the way of dialogue. The few powerful moments in the film include these two polar opposites sharing stories and secrets inside their cell. Most of the other relationships in the film—between Wade and his wife; one prison guard and another—seem forced, as though they’re just there to kill time before the next fight scene. (Not horribly surprising, given the director, Ric Roman Waugh, started off as a stuntman.) Even the climax is anticlimactic, because so little effort goes into leading up to it. The message that the prison system, particularly in California, has major flaws makes it through the garbled storyline, though with a better script, it could have been much stronger.