Frank Leone (Sylvester Stallone) is living it up at one of the most easy-going prisons in America. From the party-like atmosphere to the unsupervised furloughs with his girlfriend, it's like he's not even in prison at all. He's chummy with all the guards, and the best thing is he's only got three more weeks. The way this prison looks it seems like he'd be better off staying inside.
Everything is swell until one night Frank's prison party life is shattered when he's transferred to a maximum security prison for reasons unknown to him. Ripped out of his comfy cell he's thrown into what Michael Bolton from 'Office Space' would lovingly describe as a "…federal pound me in the ass prison."
'Lock Up' plays pretty loosey-goosey with the rules of the American prison system. Turns out Frank is being transferred because of Warden Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland). Sporting a name more befitting of a person in charge of Azkaban Prison, Warden Drumgoole is furious with Frank. Why? Well, a little while ago Frank escaped from one of Drumgoole's prisons and he's been holding a grudge ever since. Now he's pulled every string in the prison system to get Frank into his hands for the last three weeks of his sentence. Drumgoole's goal? Get Frank to mess up so badly that he'll end up tacking on more and more time onto his sentence. This way Drumgoole can torture Frank for the rest of his life.
Stallone pretty much plays a less talkative, but just as sweet version of Rocky here. Even though he's a convict, the movie never makes us feel like he actually did anything remotely bad. This is so we can root for him. The prison guards on the other hand are giant beefy guys with cold stares and malice in their hearts. OK, so it's really cliché up until this point, but just wait until Frank meets a rag-tag band of guys who appear to be the only other good guys in the prison. Wait, that's pretty clichéd too.
'Lock Up' is corny that's for sure, but it's also mildly fun if you're looking for some slightly amusing entertainment. The story is beyond unbelievable, and the villains are caricatures of villains.
'Lock Up' features all the calling cards of your typical prison movie. Doofus guards, a horrible warden, a nasty game of pick-up football, a happy-go-lucky montage of a few of the convicts getting to know each other, a death of one of the minor characters that sends the main character into a tail-spin. Yup, it's all here. Nothing new, but Stallone at least makes this movie watchable. He's got a charisma about him that makes most of his characters, no matter how hardened they're supposed to be, enduring on screen.
It's true you could do better when it comes to prison movies and rewatch 'The Shawshank Redemption,' but at least this isn't 'The Longest Yard' with Adam Sandler. This is right there in the middle of the prison genre, and if you like these types of movies then 'Lock Up' may be right up your alley.
Liongate's 1080p transfer of this 1989 film looks nice considering its age.
Colors are nicely rendered, even though much of the film is taken over by drab colors like grays, blacks, and browns. Due, most likely, to the film's age, we're looking at our fair share of source noise that crops up pretty frequently throughout the film. Another concern is that some faces lose a little bit of fine detail and come out with a sort of waxy look to them, especially Stallone's mug. It does look like noticeable DNR was used to touch up a few facial close ups. Interior and darker shots have a nice depth to them, but some facial detail gets lost in the blackness of the prison bowels. For the most part fine detail is sharply done. Take for example the prison grounds, the crumbling old prison walls, and the flying mud that fills the air and covers the prisoners uniforms during the football game.
This isn't a video presentation that's going to blow you away, and it definitely isn't even in the upper echelon of catalog titles on Blu-ray, but it's a very serviceable video presentation. It's most definitely an upgrade from the standard DVD.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation follows in line with the video. Not too flashy, or overly amazing, but just solid enough to get the job done efficiently.
'Lock Up's surround track is heavy on the ambient sound of a crowded prison, which goes a long way in creating a believable prison experience. LFE is very underwhelming, which is one of the larger disappointments of this presentation as a whole. During intense fighting scenes, or even when the soundtrack kicks in, the bass, while there, is very light and airy. Dialogue is perfectly intelligible (for a Stallone movie) and is delivered precisely through the center channels. Directional panning effects are nicely done, but when First Base drives the car into the prison yard I expected more of an oomph from the soundtrack and its panning abilities as the car races from one side of the screen to the other. The car's effects sounded tinny, and too light. This may be due to the lack of bass even though the car's engine is revving.
All the features were carried over from the 2007 DVD release of the movie. No new extras were made for this Blu-raye.
'Lock Up' is about as generic as prison movies come, but Stallone makes it watchable. Even after featuring one of the better villainous names in Drumgoole, Sutherland's portrayal of a mean warden is comical, and never makes us feel scared for poor old Frank. 'Lock Up' features a nicely handled audio and video presentation considering the film's age. For Stallone fans, this is probably a recommended title, and will probably be found for fairly cheap within a few weeks of its release. Everyone else, I would recommend renting it if you're interested. Like I said, you could do better with this genre, but you could also do much, much worse.