2001 Certificate: 15


Picture the scene just before The A-Team broke out of their "maximum security stockade" and, boom, you've got this prison bust-out thriller starring Robert Redford as a court-martialled general who locks horns with James Gandolfini's vindictive warden. What begins as a battle of wills turns into a full-blown rebellion as Redford brings his leadership skills to the table. Mark Ruffalo co-stars in an explosive actioner in the mould of Stallone's Lock Up, only smarter.


  • Rod Lurie


  • Robert Redford

  • James Gandolfini

  • Mark Ruffalo

  • Delroy Lindo

  • Clifton Collins Jr


With America going through an understandable flag-waving frenzy, this couldn't have come along at a better time - if morale boosting is what you want.

A grizzled Robert Redford - fresh from taking on corrupt government in Spy Game - is the three-star general who has seen action in Vietnam, the Gulf and Bosnia.

However, he finds himself court-martialed for disobeying orders which led to the loss of lives and sent to serve his time at the notorious Castle.

In charge of the maximum high security prison is Colonel Winter (Sopranos star Gandolfini), a hard-nosed disciplinarian who will brook no opposition.

A weary Redford just wants to keep his head down, serve his time and get out to enjoy the last few years of his life.

However, the prison's mix of army regulars gone-off-the-rails see him as leadership material and soon he is suffering a battle of wills with the hardline Winter.

The prison chief's resentment is soon made plain with Redford forced to haul around stones to build a wall for the sadistic Winter.

But it doesn't stop there - it's not long before revolt is in the air, and there's only one man for the job of taking on the bullying Winter the American way.

The renegade prisoners rally to Redford, and what was once a battle of wills becomes a battle to the death.

Director Rod Lurie - who went on to remake Straw Dogs - was the man behind The Contender, a potentially superb political thriller which let itself down with a tacked-on PC ending.

Here he is fortunate to have a star like Redford, who carefully fleshes out the character of the mythical commander. Likewise, Gandolfini manages to make the slightly written Winter a well-rounded creation.

No classic, but solid entertainment.