A group of people are brought together to an isolated area to fight to the death for the entertainment of the general public and in the hopes of getting a prize at the end. We’ve heard this before because it is a popular premise. Battle Royal, The Running Man and Hunger Games are just the first couple of movies that come to mind. I could make a lengthy list of all the movies that share this premise. Despite its unoriginality, that doesn’t make The Condemned a bad movie. There are plenty of other reasons that make this bad. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it but that doesn’t make this good.
Steve Austin plays Katniss HuntedHunterTotallyNotARipoff, an American military man in a prison somewhere we don’t care about sentenced to death. He only gets in because the ‘Arab’ was killed. Breckel, the producer of the show, decided he wanted people to hate Americans. He gets sent to an island with 9 other death row inmates who have to kill each other until one remains and that lucky duck gets to go free. He wasn’t too bad in this but he didn’t say a whole lot either. He wasn’t exactly Kurt Russell in Soldier but he wasn’t pontificating either. After watching as many Austin movies as I have, the only conclusion I can draw is that he isn’t really an actor so much as he is a persona. I think people would have had a better reaction if he was just “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in all of his movies. I would pay to see him don the persona of “Stone Cold” in just about any movie setting. Driving Miss Daisy where he play Hoke Colburn, Stone Cold Stuns Miss Daisy, and flips her off while chugging multiple beers.
Vinnie Jones play Ewan McStarley, a British military man in a prison somewhere we don’t care about sentenced to death. While being the antagonist, he is simultaneously sadistic, one dimensional, and entertaining. I like Vinnie Jones and he doesn’t disappoint. He was cast well for this and despite having mediocre dialog he really delivers. Bright spot in an otherwise meh kind of a movie.
The rest of the cast was fine but nothing great. Nathan Jones didn’t do anything for me here but he was only in it for a couple minutes. The character Yasantwa played by Emelia Burns, was by and far my favorite. She used her femininity to trick these macho dudes into letting her blow them up. Despite the fact that Austin was clearly the ‘good guy’ I was rooting for Yasantwa. I felt the similarly for Harold Weiss (Marvin J. McIntyre aka The nerdy guy) in The Running Man. I wanted Weiss to make it because he was a nerd and so am I.
I want to remake this movie. Take a leading man like Dwayne Johnson and start the same kind of story but have the villain win almost immediately. Make the real story about them letting the psycho ‘winner’ of the game go free and turn it into U.S. Marshals and make the Marshals the protagonists. Instead of an innocent 90’s Wesley Snipes type of character they would be hunting a guilty 10’s Wesley Snipes type of character.