(director/writer: Dallas Jackson; cinematographer: Michael Brouphy; editor: Justin Williams; cast: Tyrese Gibson (Terry Savage), Terrence Howard (Bones), Jeremy Piven (Warden Lucas), Laura Aleman (Guard Gina), David Joseph Martinez (Warden Carlos), Caleb Spillyards (Mongul), Arielle Prepetil (Janette Johnson), Hawk Walts (Killian), Ric Reitz (Commissioner Clarke), Lil Yachty (Joker); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Bryan Lord; The Avenue/VOD; 2022)
“So-so action thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Mediocre director/writer Dallas Jackson (“Welcome to Sudden Death”/”Thriller”) stays in the same kitchen cooking up another uninteresting and so-so action thriller. The film casts ugly aspersions on the modern-day prison system as being racist and not a place of rehabilitation.
Terry Savage (Tyrese Gibson) leaves the Marines as a war hero in need of money and medical benefits. He needs medicine to save his ill daughter from an unnamed disease and to get them robs illegal drug houses to get some bread to buy the needed medicines. He’s imprisoned after caught and is facing ten years for armed robbery.
The police commissioner (Ric Reitz) offers him a prison pardon to infiltrate a private prison and expose the corruption there from the venal warden Lucas Fisher (Jeremy Piven).
Once there Terry is attacked by a vicious prison gang, but fortunately is saved by the inmate Bones (Terrence Howard), who then teaches him martial arts fighting.
The corrupt warden recruits Terry to box in the underground boxing ring called the Dungeon, that’s run by the psychopath inmate called the Joker (Lil Yachty).
Terry is helped by lifer Bones in the ring to survive and also to get evidence to put an end to the corrupt prison connected with the drug operation. But the twist comes when the commissioner is also part of the corrupt system.
How Terry works heroically to clean things up by turning every prisoner against the ‘system’ makes for an unbelievable resolution (though it imitates many similar recent prison pics). Unimpressive and predictable violence and death scenes pave the way for resolving the cliched and fractured narrative.
REVIEWED ON 11/12/2022 GRADE: C-