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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lock Up - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Donald Sutherland, John Amos and Darlanne Fluegel - Released in 1989

Frank Leone (Sylvester Stallone) is out on parole, reminiscing in a garage he hopes to own one day, his girlfriend Melissa (Darlanne Fluegel) comes in to meet him and they go and play ball with the neighborhood kids. Nearing the end of his sentence at prison, Frank’s behavior is impeccable and he is counting the days before his release. Leone is a football player and a really good mechanic, living in Hoboken, New Jersey. That evening he returns to Norwood Prison, after Melissa gives him a good luck charm - the fellow prisoners seem happy that he’s back. In the middle of the night, he is rudely woken up and forcefully carried off to Gateway Prison - a maximum security prison. Despite his pleas he is not told why he is being transferred.
Prison warden Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland) has old scores to settle with Leone, and it was at his behest that the prisoner was transferred. While he was incarcerated under Drumgoole’s watch at Treadmore Prison, Frank staged a daring escape because he was denied the permission to meet a dying friend. When he was out of prison, Leone was also instrumental in running a smear campaign against the Warden in the Press, he talked of how prisoners were tortured and ill treated by Drumgoole - this had led to Frank’s prison sentence being reduced and the Warden’s transfer to Gateway Prison.
In the prison, Frank meets up with Dallas, Eclipse and First – Base, the four become close friends. Part of his work at prison incorporates mending old cars, and along with the other three, Frank restores to health a Ford Mustang. Eclipse is tempted and tries to escape in the car, even though Leone asks him not to - as a consequence, Drumgoole punishes the three by asking other inmates to destroy the vehicle in front of them and sentences Leone to six weeks solitary confinement. He is not allowed to communicate with the others and cannot even receive letters from Melissa - although one of the guards sneaks them in and delivers the mail after his confinement is over.
Not one to give in, Drumgoole decides to frame Frank and then implicate him. The Warden lets another prisoner Chink Weber (Sonny Landham) along with other fellow prisoners to try and kill First Base, Leone thrashes Chink within an inch of his life, aware that he will walk into Drumgoole’s trap if he kills the man -therefore he spares him. However, Weber’s friend stabs Leone, and whilst he is recuperating, a man, claiming to be a well wisher named Dallas, tells him that Drumgoole has  paid off Chink to rape and murder Melissa. Leone takes the bait and is delivered right into Drumgoole’s hands - the Warden wanted Leone to try and escape so that he arrests him on charges to frame him for a ten year sentence.
Meanwhile, Leone is tortured by the sadistic guards, and almost loses his life - but not before he barges into Drumgoole’s  office, strapping him to an electrocution chair, with his hand on the switch - as the guards threaten to kill him, he gets the Warden to confess the evil plot he had hatched to trap Leone. Hearing the confession, the guards arrest Drumgoole. Leone is released after his jail time and reunites with Melissa.
Released in 1998, the film is directed by John Flynn, Lockup was well received by audiences, if not critics. Stallone, everyone’s favorite underdog played the part of the victim turned hero to perfection.

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