Though he’s quite capable at what he does, Laurence Fishburne has never been a favorite of mine. That said, I did think his performance here stood out above many of his others. As a matter of fact, it’s all of the performances in the film that you’ll walk away remembering the most.
Based in Puerto Rico, ‘Imprisoned’ is an R Rated thriller that stars Fishburne as Daniel Calvin, a prison warden who, as Mr. Prison God, knows that what he says, goes. In that respect, writer/director Paul Kampf made a film worth seeing. Something to be considered is that in the year 2020, it’s hard to come up with an individualistic, offbeat, and unorthodox story, primarily if it’s centered around prisons and the wars that can come up from running them.
Anyway, Much much older now, Calvin takes a stroll down to the prison he worked in decades before. The prison that he ran was actually built within the walls of an older prison structure, which stood for three-hundred years! It was kept there after all these years to remind the people where they fit into the grand scheme of things. Meaning, they don’t.
After so many years, the once new Santiago prison walls that he worked in, will be torn down. Nothing lasts; ask the Roman Empire. Calvin walks around in what will soon be rubble. The old ghosts he carries start to haunt him. He thinks back to the days when he was the man in charge. Calvin liked to ‘string them up’ as it’s said. If you ended up in Calvin’s prison, that’s what happened to you. It was as if instead of getting therapy, he worked out his frustrations on pulling the lever and watching a man swing. Everyone thrown into the prison knew this, too. In one of his cells was not where you wanted to end up.
If you didn’t want to get thrown in Santiago, you worked for him. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you could get on his right side. It doesn’t matter to him how he knew you. Friend, prisoner, employee, you weren’t in a good place, because he was harsh and barbaric to you either way. What the movie becomes is almost an ad against capital punishment.
Calvin meets the alluring and outgoing, approachable café owner, Maria (Juana Acosta). Maria is married to fisherman Dylan (Juan Pablo Raba), who we learn in flashbacks, was the man responsible for the accidental death of Calvin’s wife and unborn child. Once he realizes who her husband is, the warden keeps the connection and does all he can to separate the beautiful and friendly woman from the man he can’t forgive. Even though Dylan has done his time, Calvin wants to get him into his cells so that he, Calvin, can carry out his preferred form of holding him responsible once and for all.
Calvin usually gets what he wants, and once he gets hold of Dylan, by framing him for a murder he didn’t commit, by the way, he walks around with the look of revenge in his eyes.
Fishburne delivers this look very well because you can feel it penetrate the screen. It’s as if Derek Zoolander gave him lessons on how to throw ‘Blue Steele.’ I was just checking to see if you were paying attention there for a moment.
Several well-known actors have character roles in the film. Fishburne is the most significant part with John Heard playing a small and forgettable part. Edward James Olmos plays a fellow prisoner who offers Dylan some good advice, and Esai Morales signed on as Governor Mandera. With regard to his executions, the governor serves Calvin a considerable blow when he gives him an order that he finds difficult to follow.
If the movie wasn’t all over the place the way it was and had been given a bigger budget, I think it may have been edited more interestingly for maximum enjoyment. The ending, which is about Calvin’s executions, has more life in it than the rest of ‘Imprisoned.’ There’s such an exciting twist in the film that I can’t wait to see what Paul Kampf has for us next. He has mostly been involved in the making of short films, and I believe that as he improves, so will his storytelling. His characters, though clichéd, are well written and well developed. If he manages to stay away from stereotypes to make a film successful, he’ll only get better and better. Next time, Kampf, let’s see something more uncommon. I know you’re capable of it.
SRP: $24.95 (881394127722)
Audio: Stereo 5.1
SRP: $29.95 (881394127821)
Audio: Stereo 5.1
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Cinema Libre Studio is a full-service mini-studio known for producing and distributing high caliber feature films and social impact documentaries. Headquartered in the Los Angeles area, the team has released over 200 films.
Director: Paul Kampf
Writers: Paul Kampf
Stars: John Heard, Laurence Fishburne, Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales and Juana Acosta
Running Time: 1h 44m