Movie Mind Says: Wait for PPV
If You Like This You Should Watch: The Rundown, Universal Soldier
Better Than: The Marine, Out for a Kill
Worse Than: Con-Air, Predator
Starring: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Vinnie Jones, Robert Mammone
Surprisingly enough, there is a message hidden inside the violence and steel cage match that is The Condemned. It’s not those who are “sentenced” to death by inmate on this island that are “the condemned”, but instead those who are paying to watch these live executions on the internet. It’s actually a pretty clever “hook”, albeit shocking coming from WWE Films who wouldn’t be in existence if not for their audience paying for staged carnage night in and night out.
A combination of Survivor, The Truman Show, Untraceable, and WrestleMania; The Condemned starts with the brainchild of one disturbed ex-Hollywood hotshot producer (Robert Mammone as Breckel) who has been blackballed for pushing the envelope a little too far. Only this time, he will go much further. Breckel and his team rig up a remote island in the south pacific with hundreds of cameras to capture a live reality show where the only way to “win”, is by being the last one living. He pays off wardens in corrupt prisons all over the globe to release his handpicked stars into his custody. These evil contestants, who were all awaiting death sentences for one reason or another, are dropped on the island in a free-for-all and told to kill or be killed by using any means available. After 30 hours are up, the only one that will escape his ultimate death sentence (by a wireless explosive on the ankle, mind you) is to be the last one standing.
Stone Cold isn’t half-bad in his coming-out party, although I wouldn’t necessarily call him half-good either. Thankfully the writers did something right by limiting his dialogue to single sentence trash-talk in the heat of combat. He plays Conrad, the only “good” bad guy in the bunch, who isn’t willing to compromise his own morals just to save his own skin. Except just like clockwork, Vinnie Jones, as the worst of the worst bad dudes, crosses Stone Cold and causes him to flip the switch and decide he wants off that island whatever the way. On a side note, was The Movie Mind the only one waiting for The Undertaker to come out of a smoking tunnel or for Stone Cold to smash a couple Steve-weisers on his head and drop an elbow on some of the bad guys?
Forgive me for nitpicking, but there are some pretty large oversights from the writing department here. Let’s start with the fact that we are just supposed to believe that Stone Cold is a tougher SOB than what are supposed to be the baddest dudes on the criminal planet. Yes, we know he is ex-special forces and a black-ops guy for the “government”, but apparently that makes him tougher than 9 other hand-selected hardcore inmates from the worst prisons in the world. That doesn’t even come close to filling the void left from the whole “background” story of how Stone Cold was left to rot in prison for doing the government’s dirty work. After all, he had some information on his “bosses” that would apparently put them in a very bad position. They were all the while happier to know he was stuck in hell. This was the reason they didn’t immediately come to save him when they found out his whereabouts, after all. Yet once the carnal-gameshow had concluded, he was apparently set free to return home to the obligatory female love interest.
It’s a decent action flick in the mold of the dearth of Van Damme and Seagal flicks with a somewhat unique twist. I will give it some credit for that. Maybe The Movie Mind was asking a bit too much to expect whatever semblance of a storyline there was to hold true. Even if a plot was just “filler” for this Survivor-on-steroids action-based movie, it would have been nice to clean some of it up in the end.
If the wife is out of town, which was the sole reason The Movie Mind decided to indulge, The Condemned can function as a sufficient testosterone-laden excuse for viewing bloodshed. Just don’t expect a whole lot more, even if there was some potential in the outset. And that’s the bottom line, because The Movie Mind said so.
Interesting Cameo Appearance: Nathan Jones (former Strongman/freak of nature/WWE wrestler at 6’11 360 lbs.) as Petr
Jack Conrad: Sounds like you’ve had a hard life.
Ewan McStarley: Yeah.
Jack Conrad: Good thing it’s over.
Ian Breckel: What were you doing in El Salvador?
Jack Conrad: Working on my tan.
Ian Breckel: Why did you blow the building up?
Jack Conrad: It was blocking my sun.