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Lock Up
DVD disk
May 2, 2007 By: Jason Adams
Lock Up order
Director:
John Flynn

Actors:
Sylvester Stallone
Donald Sutherland
Tom Sizemore

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Months away from finishing his sentence, a well-mannered prisoner is transferred to a maximum security hellhole, where heís continuously tormented by a warden with a personal vendetta.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
LOCK UP is the quiet stepchild of the Sylvester Stallone cinematic family. Iíd barely even heard of it before this review. Typically this kind of unawareness never bodes well for a filmís quality, which made me fear I was about to witness something along the lines of OVER THE TOP or [gulp] RHINESTONE. So color my ass surprised to discover that LOCK UP is a pretty good movieóa drama that touches you while it entertains you (and occasionally some of this touching involves punches to the face).

After its release in 1989, LOCK UP was nominated for three Razzie Awards and for the life of me I canít figure out why. Itís nowhere near badness of that magnitude. Itís not a complex film, nor is it devoid of the occasional cheesy or saccharine spot, but LOCK UP definitely has quite a bit going for it. One is a surprisingly strong performance by Stallone. Frank Leone is your typical nice guy-badass hybrid, but he feels like a real character, not just Rocky or Rambo thrust in the slammer. On the opposing side you have Donald Sutherlandís slimy, manipulative prison warden. While Sutherland is lacking in screentime, he still creates a decidedly evil and imposing villain, a good psychological counter to the physical presence of Stallone. And in between the two leads is some nice supporting work from Tom Sizemore, ex-football star Frank McRae, and even an appearance by a young Danny Trejo.

The other thing going for LOCK UP is a willingness to tell a real story and not just have Stallone fight or shoot his way out of prison. I found the narrative engaging, with a focus on drama and character that worked more often than not (with a little help from an inspirational Bill Conti score). Perhaps thatís why the movie is so badly shunnedóthe only expected Stallone-esque action scenes come from a hardhitting prison football game and a quick burst at the filmís conclusion. I think if you know what to expect, youíll find LOCK UP an underrated flick.

It also has one of the greatest one-liners ever, something that would make Bruce Campbell blush.
THE EXTRAS
The creatively titled Special Features include:

Featurette (6:35): An older EPK from the filmís release (1989). It mostly outlines the plot, but thereís some decent interviews with the cast, including a young Stallone.

Sylvester Stallone (3:14): Another short PR featurette concentrating on the Italian Stallion.

You also get a Trailer, Production Notes, Cast and Crew Bios and, oddly enough, a Preview extolling the virtues of the DVD format. Way to be, oh I dunnoÖ10 years behind the times.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
LOCK UP was quite a surprise to meóa very underrated addition to Stalloneís filmography. Iím not sure why it doesnít get the attention it deserves, especially when compared to some of the manís other lesser efforts from the 80s. If youíre a fan of Stallone, itís worth checking out.

Extra Tidbit: Director John Flynn also helmed OUT FOR JUSTICE and BRAINSCAN. He recently passed away on April 2nd.
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