The Condemned (2007) – A Review
A bunch of really violent and tough death-row inmates waiting to be executed get offered something of a reprieve. They get dropped on a remote island and have to fight each other to the death. The last one breathing can go free! And it will all be for the entertainment of a paying audience on the internet.
Let the R-rated action begin!
This is not a groundbreaking idea. This kind of setup, or variation of it, has been a widely used story since The Most Dangerous Game. It’s become something of an off-shoot in the thriller/action genre – the Human Prey Genre! Have some poor slob get selected to be hunted down for the sake of sport. Cue Hard Target, The Naked Prey, The 10th Victim.
OR throw a bunch of poor slobs together so they can engage in gladiatorial competition for the amusement of an audience, like The Running Man, Battle Royale, The Tournament, and of course The Hunger Games.
I watched a really cheap B-Movie movie recently called Relentless Justice where Leilani Sarelle is a former Australian Intelligence agent who is hunted down by a bunch of baddies and has to survive their game. Even Gilligan’s Island did a a take on the story! That was one intense episode!
The premise is simple, to the point and is designed to deliver the goods for action fans.
I had forgotten about The Condemned until I stumbled onto it one night. I heard it was a a terrible offering produced by WWE Films, and yeah it is pretty dumb. Luckily, some of the grisly action bits were OK, so it wasn’t a total waste of time.
So, these ten hardcore murderers are dumped onto this island and have to go about killing each other and try yo be the last survivor. They each have a ticking bomb attached to their ankle as incentive to get the show on the road. Steve Austin is Conrad, a mysterious, quiet bad-ass. The only other contestant worth knowing is Vinnie Jones who is completely evil. There are some alliances made and they all go about punching and trying to kill one another.
I don’t think I’ve watched a Steve Austin movie before and I thought he was pretty effective in this. He’s basically just a big, bad-ass, taciturn tough guy, probably not much of a stretch from his time in the wrestling ring, but he was fine in this.
Jones also made a decent bad guy. The one good thing is they don’t hold back at all making him a really evil bad guy. He’s just a complete psycho. He does some very dastardly deeds and does some major scene chewing every step of the way. So, those two guys worked. I was anxious to see Austin kill Jones in the most brutal fashion that this movie could come up with.
Most of the fights are adequate. We have a bunch of mean-looking, muscle-packing actors going toe-to-toe and things get more violent than I thought they would. There gets to be that old reliable hand-held shaky cam crap during some of the brawls and that doesn’t add anything. I don’t know why filmmakers consistently rely on that technique nowadays.
But the action for the most part is satisfying. This is a B-action picture, so my expectations were not that high for it. It would have been nice had the action, the reason why you’d be watching this, had been more thrilling and unique, but I’d give it a pass.
Meanwhile, the brains behind this party is Robert Mammone who is broadcasting this illegal death match on the internet and is hoping for big ratings. I didn’t understand why if it’s illegal he would be giving interviews to a Barbara Walters-type on national TV and declaring that he’s putting on this death match.
I don’t think I would be putting my face out there for the world to see if I was him. That’s the thing with illegal stuff, it can get dicey advertising it and taking credit for it.
For some reason the movie decides to shift away from the island fighting way too often. We have to learn that Austin is not such a bad guy and his wife is worried about him. Then there’s the FBI trying to zero in on the island to stop this. It all feels like unnecessary boring filler to break up the action. They would have been better off dropping thirty murderers on the island to pad out the runtime if they had to.
There is a completely ham-handed preachy message the movie tries to end with about how violence is bad and we should be ashamed for watching it. I don’t know why they tried to include it. It not only felt hypocritical given the makers of this are behind sporting entertainment solely designed to exploit our love of big guys hitting each other, but it’s so badly and stodgily done. You know, one by one the film crew have second thoughts about what they’re doing, “I don’t think I can do this.”, “This is tough to watch.”, “I think you’re taking this too far.” Again who cares!
Everytime the movie detours away from the prisoners with the bombs on their ankles it becomes a chore to sit through. They should have just kept the focus on the fights on the island and this might have been more of a guilty pleasure type of B-movie. Yeah, I wanted to see these prisoners fight each other! Sue me.