“IMPRISONED”— A Prison Drama


A Prison Drama

Amos Lassen

Paul Kampf’s “Imprisoned” is the story of  Daniel Calvin, a warden (Laurence Fishburne) who frames an ex-con with whom he has a tragic history.

Calvin, the retired former warden of the local prison, decides to revisit his former place of employment just before the aged structure is due to be demolished, which prompts and he remembers events that took place years earlier. When he was still the prison’s warden,  he first encountered Maria (Juana Acosta), the proprietress of a nearby café. Even though she lectures him on the evils of capital punishment, Daniel is clearly attracted to her, and he makes his interest known. His real motivation for wanting to get close to her is more insidious. Her fisherman husband Dylan (Juan Pablo Raba) is an ex-con who has turned his life around. Dylan has a history with Daniel, who becomes determined to make sure he’s sent back to prison where he can get revenge.  

Dylan is sent back behind bars and faces Daniel’s wrath. Fishburne, unfortunately, cannot  make his credible. What we see is a melodrama about a man wrongly convicted of a crime and a plea against capital punishment but as an afterthought.

The real meat of the story is all of its twists and turns. The whole tale is told in flashback. We learn that Dylan accidentally shot and killed Daniel’s pregnant wife during a robbery. He served his time, but Daniel doesn’t think it was enough. He wants to see Dylan punished and sets out on an elaborate scheme to get the man back in prison and the death sentence.

Daniel abuses his power and seems to get a perverse joy in executions and we see this even before the plot against Dylan is set in motion, when he stalks the couple, gets a family member involved in framing the man, and essentially rapes Maria in an attempt to get under Dylan’s skin.

Once Dylan’s in prison again, the plot becomes a race against the clock. Maria lobbies the governor (played by Esai Morales) to halt executions, and Daniel repeatedly tries to break Dylan’s spirits, while also covering up his own misdeeds. The film seems to not care about capital punishment as anything more than a plot device.