The Condemned

| April 29, 2007

With the emergence of The Rock as a bona fide action star, the WWF, or WWE or whatever they are calling it these days are desperately trying to create the next wrestler to movie star transition. But with the absolute failures of films like The Marine and See No Evil, how would The Condemned be anything other than a total crap fest?
Stone Cold Steve Austin stars as Jack Conrad, one of ten convicts sent to an island to fight to the death for their freedom. Last man standing gets a pardon. The island is rigged with hundreds of cameras to capture the action live via the internet, where people can log on and watch The Condemned. Undoubtedly inspired by films like Battle Royale, this violent action film tries to be far to serious for its own good, and its silly commentary on our society’s love for violence is so poorly executed, its laughable. When your film stars Stone Cold Steve Austin, it has nothing important to say.
And while the story/concept is a simple one, the narrative is bogged down by a boring subplot that no one cares about. Conrad, in the midst of all the action, decides to try and find a phone to call his wife. We then get to see them talk in scenes that go on for far to long and the story focuses on the wife when she really doesn’t have anything to do with the story. It is mainly fills the void between action sequences. The writers obviously had no idea how to do this effectively.
Much of the action, while being slightly entertaining, is ruined by the idiot director of photography and director who decided to shoot the action with extreme close ups and shaking the camera as much as possible. This isn’t the blair witch project. Writer/director Scott Wiper whose credentials include only straight-to-dvd- films has a flair for making total crap-fests. Highlights of the action include Stone Cold throwing an ankle bracelet bomb about a half a mile that lands in a helicopter, in the funniest shot of the film.
With films of this genre and boasting a cast of unknowns and a wrestling star, one shouldn’t expect much in the acting department, but come on now. When Vinnie Jones is out-acting everyone else on set, that probably isn’t a good thing. Stone Cold is embarrassingly bad. He makes Madonna look like Meryl Streep. He manages to ruin one-liners. Who does that? How is that even possible? It is a great thing his dialogue is kept to a minimum because he miss-pronounces the word ‘longitude’. Seeing how his character is a highly acclimated special operative in the military, you think the filmmakers would notice something like that. I guess bashing your brain in the wrestling ring for a decade is starting to take effect. The rest of the cast are cardboard cutouts, which is usually the case in films like these. No one really stands out, but Vinne Jones is always entertaining.
You shouldn’t go into the The Condemned expecting much. I would imagine no one with any bit of sanity would. If you love terrible acting, cheesy one-liners, sub-par action sequences, terrible subplots, and adore Stone Cold Steve Austin, than you’ll probably really love this film. I laughed my way through this one, and embraced its bad-ness, but it is not something anyone should watch unless you have no friends and still play with wrestling action figures.
Grade: D+

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