Lock Up came out in 1989, but for much of its running time it feels like it could have been made at least 15 years earlier. Shot mainly on location at a real state prison (with real prison inmates serving as extras) in Rahway, New Jersey, it isn’t exactly gritty, but it’s convincing enough. Director John Flynn knew what kind of movie he was trying to make–a straightforward vehicle for star Sylvester Stallone, who was restlessly seeking new roles that would help sustain the first post- Rambo and Rocky stage of his career. And despite his relative anonymity in Hollywood, Flynn was a good pick for the project, having a body of work that included taut cult classics like the 1970s pulp adaptation The Outfit (featuring Robert Duvall as Donald E. Westlake’s favoured screen version of his iconic Parker character) and the revenge drama Rolling Thunder (with William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones as Vietnam vets tracking down a gang of small-time thugs), as well as 1987’s critically acclaimed Best Seller, starring James Woods and Brian Dennehy. Flynn earned a journalism degree from UCLA, and his deceptively simple directorial style evinces what strike me as sound reportorial instincts: he finds the kernel of every scene and assembles the fewest and least fussy shots required to get the point across.