In the not-too-distant future electronics can make you rich or make you dead. Frank Warren uses his expertise as an electronic engineer to stage an ingenious jewelry heist. He carefully disarms the alarm system of a downtown diamond mart but the robbery is almost blown by the impatience and greed of his two fellow thieves, Sam and Noelle, Frank’s girlfriend. The mart’s alarm is prematurely set off and they are forced to continue the heist, knowing police are on the way.
They escape in the ensuing confusion, but leave behind their dead driver and several dead police officers.
Later Frank catches up with his friends to divide the loot, but Sam and Noelle double-cross him. She shoots Frank at point-blank range, leaving him for dead.
Miraculously, Frank recovers and we next find him entering prison – a very different kind of prison. It is a privately run operation, with no bars, no guards and no escape. Each prisoner is given a special collar, electronically connected to another prisoner whose identity is unknown. If he strays more than a hundred yards from his “wedlock” partner (the boundary of the prison grounds) or attempts to remove the collar it will explode – leaving a nasty hole where his head used to be enough incentive to stay put. This jail is the brain child of the smilingly sinister Warder Holliday, who has a few other bizarre tricks for his inmates. They are identified by bar codes on their clothing instead of numbers and each is given a different color as his code name. He dubs Frank “Magenta” and lets him know that he is aware that his erstwhile partners never found the diamonds. Perhaps the strangest twist of all is the ‘magic hour’ in which male and female prisoners are encouraged to spend time alone together in special rooms.
A poster warns them “Avoid the Death Penalty – Use a Condom”.
A particularly beautiful prisoner, Tracy, tells Frank that she has found out she is his “wedlock” partner. She suggests they escape together. He refuses. Later, after he has killed a bullying prisoner in a vicious fight, he is put on a stretcher due to injuries and into a station wagon. Before he realizes what has happened, Tracy jumps into the driver’s seat and drives them through the prison perimeter. Their heads do not explode proving they are wedlocked, but they now must stay close to one another if they wish to stay alive Frank doesn’t know that their “escape” has been engineered by Holliday who is partnered with Sam and Noelle. Holliday makes it look good. Guards pursue them until they escape when Tracy drives the car over a cliff and into a ravine. The two climb to their safety and outrun the guards. Their perilous journey takes them south, Frank in search of the special tools he needs to remove the collars, and Tracy to settle an old debt. At a motel they are surprised by local sheriffs. But before the police can make their arrest, they are ambushed by Sam and Noelle who have been following the couple. Frank and Tracy again escape, discretely followed by Sam and Noelle. The double-cross is really a triple-cross – Tracy has all along been reporting back to Holliday. He has promised her that her collar will be removed if she leads him to the diamonds. But Frank and Tracy also start falling in love with each other. The five protagonists finally meet up at an old ruined church, where a friend of Frank’s has stashed the loot. Once again, he faces the guns of his ruthless tormentors. Nothing can save him this time – or does he have one more card to play?
Director: Lewis Teague
Rutger Hauer - Frank Warren
Mimi Rogers - Tracy Riggs
Joan Chen - Noelle
James Remar - Sam
Basil Wallace - Emerald
Stephen Tobolowsky - Warden Holliday
Grand L. Bush - Jasper
Denis Forest - Puce
Glenn Plummer - Teal
O-Lan Jones - Saleswoman