In honor of Friday's release of The Expendables, we're taking a week-long look at the action films of Sir Sylvester Stallone -- which is to say we're skipping his comedies. Out of respect.

Lock Up

Setting: Present-day 1989. A typical movie prison full of typically typical prisoners. I believe it's in New Jersey, if that helps.

Our hero: Noble convict Frank Leone (Stallone), who just wants to finish out his last six months of jail time and get home to have sex with Darlanne Fluegel.

Our villain/s: Stunningly evil Warden Drumgool, as played by Donald Sutherland as if he's been asked to play Hitler combined with Satan. Various unsavory types are played by Sonny Landham, John Amos, and an irritatingly chatty Tom Sizemore.

The stakes: Leone's freedom, life, and future plans of having sex with Darlanne Fluegel.

How long until our first confrontation? Given the nature of the plot, Leone must pull a slow burn for most of the flick, but he breaks through with some ass-kicking craziness once a football game breaks out and our hero tosses a lateral for a touchdown to reluctant offensive lineman Frank McRae.

Line of dialogue that nails it: "This place is hell ... and I'm going to give you the guided tour!"

Coolest display of might: Pretty sure it's when Leone beats a man to death with his bare fists near the end -- and then he defeats the horrible old warden through cleverness!

Oddest lack of consistency: Most of the prison guards are sick, twisted psychos who love to torture and murder people, which is weird enough, but the two ethical prison guards don't speak up until after at least five people are dead. Oy!

Moral of the story: If you're in a prison where Donald Sutherland is in charge, just hang yourself.

Stallone Action Scale: 5.5 out of 10; take a full point off if "mud football" doesn't count as "action" in your book.

categories Cinematical