Maximum Security is a 1999 American action film starring Patrick Swayze and Jeff Fahey. Described as "Die Hard in a prison," the film centers on Swayze's character, who is wrongfully imprisoned in a maximum security penitentary, and his efforts to save the day when there is a prison break.


Howard Cage (Swayze) and Rhett Marcus (Fahey) are with a team of elite commandoes on an elite mission to Vietnam to liberate a group of American POWs. The mission goes badly wrong and there are many casualities on both sides as a result. Marcus is presumed dead and Cage survives, only to be imprisoned because of the illegal nature of his mission.

Cage is placed in a San Francisco maximum security prison, where he meets other inmates such as Lobo (Armand Assante), a psychopath who he depises, and Rat (Casper Van Dien), who he develops a friendship with. One day, Cage meets Rhonda Stanton (Sandra Bullock), a new female prison guard, who Lobo tries to intimidate. Rhonda proves that she is able to hold her own against him, and Cage takes a liking to her.

Cage is shown to have a hostile relationship with the brutal warden, Stamper (Jon Voight), who secretly has big plans. Stamper is about to be forced into early retirement, and is planning revenge against the city he deems responsible. 

On the same day that it's Rhondas first day on the job, a tour group arrives at the prison. Amongst them are armed mercenaries hired by Stamper. Stamper sends another prison guard, Kemp, to open all the cells, releasing all of the prisoners. The other tour group members are taken hostage and the merc leader reveals himself to be none other than Marcus.

Marcus turns out to have faked his death and has teamed up with Stamper. Stamper wants a ransom for the hostages, and Marcus wants to kill Cage. During the takeover, Kemp is thrown over a rail by the criminals and killed. Cage, however, has managed to fade into the crowd and avoid detection by the terrorists. He rescues Rhonda from a rape attempt by Lobo and the two set out to try and defeat the mercenaries, with Cage becoming determined to kill Marcus himself.

Rat also starts to help them and they start to take down the mercenaries and most vicious criminals one by one. Lobo attacks Rhonda yet again and pulls her into a cell to try and rape her again, but Rat bursts in and kills him by slamming his head against the bars. Meanwhile, Cage goes after Marcus and beats him up in a violent fight. The group then come after Stamper, who is hiding in his office, and throw him to the prisoners, who kill him in retaliation for his cruelty and burn his body.

A SWAT team finally enters the prison to take out the remaining hostiles, but their is some confusion and Rat is shot. Marcus then reappears and opens fire on the SWAT officers with a machine gun, so Cage goes after him. He manages to knock the gun out of his hands and over the rail, but Marcus then pins him down and starts choking him. A wounded Rat emerges from an adjacent cell and tosses a prison shank to Cage. Cage catches it and uses it to stab Marcus before knocking him over the rail. He catches him by the legs and tells him to keep the faith before dropping him to his death.

In the aftermath, Cage learns that the US President has heard of his heroic efforts and pardoned him. He thanks Rat for his help before the latter is taken to the hospital to have his wounds tended to. Cage and Rhonda then get into another ambulance and he points that he's a free man now, and is able to buy her dinner. She accepts as they are driven to the hospital.


Patrick Swayze - Howard Cage

Jeff Fahey - Rhett Marcus

Sandra Bullock - Rhonda Stanton

Casper Van Dien - Rat

Jon Voight - Stamper

Armand Assante - Lobo

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