The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Condemned

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Judy Thorburn

The Condemned

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"THE CONDEMNED" - OUTWIT, OUTPLAY, OUTKILL

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

On the TV reality series Survivor, when a competitive contestant is voted off, the flame from their torch is put out. It is strictly a symbolic gesture representing the end of their life in the game. None of the contestant’s lives are ever really put in jeopardy. The central focus for the 16 people left alone on a deserted island or region in the world is to outwit, outplay, and outlast the competition for a $1 million prize.

Not so for the competitors of The Condemned, a movie that steals from both the reality TV series and the movie Running Man and combines the two premises into a feature film starring WWE wrestling superstar “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. For the ten death row inmates chosen against their will to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed, the payoff is the promise of freedom and some cash.

Corrupt TV producer Ian Breckel (Robert Mammone, who, not so coincidently bears a strong resemblance to Survivor’s host Jeff Probst) scopes prisons all over the world to find and pay for the ten killers condemned to die on death row so he can use them as stars for his internet TV reality show to be streamed live across the worldwide web for millions of paid subscribers to view at $49.99 a pop. His idea has the contestants, rigged with an explosive device on their ankles set to detonate if the red tag is removed, sent by helicopter to a remote island in the middle of the South Pacific. Pitted against each other, after thirty hours, the one left standing after eliminating the rest will be set free.

The chosen bunch without a doubt has to represent some ethnic diversity. So we have an Arab, a Latino husband and wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz), a German (Andy McPhee), a Russian (Nathan Jones), an African female (Emelia Burns), an African American male (Marcus Johnson), Ewan McStarley, a sadistic British former Special forces agent (Vinnie Jones) who quickly forms an alliance with a vicious young Japanese martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi), and American Jack Conrad (Austin) a big, bald menacing looking guy with a covert past.

Breckel has assembled a tech team in a hidden command center where all the brutal action is watched from cameras set up all over the island. There are no rules, no immunity and internet audiences get to witness what is essentially a reprehensible “snuff film” in the making. Breckel is a scoundrel without a conscience who only thinks of numbers of viewers and how they result in big bucks at the expense of human lives. It should come as no surprise that so called reality TV isn’t so real with the exposure that much of what we see is manipulated and edited for “entertainment” value. As an example Breckel gets down and dirty by sending in weapons, food and water to one of the killers in order to rig the game to suit his own means. Acting as the moral conscience, Breckel’s technical director Goldman (Rick Hoffman) adds some conflict by struggling with what he knows is very wrong. But, that that doesn’t last. At one point, he reacts by getting sick to his stomach, but then continues to go back to his job overseeing the gruesome action.

Of course, the entire storyline is ridiculous and implausible since there is no way the FBI would not have tracked down this illegal set up/operation in a flash without going through all the unnecessary mumbo jumbo. But we must remember this is a movie and time is needed to show all the nasty killing machines in action. Action being the key word director, Scott Wiper (he’s asking for it with that name) delivers a fair amount of violence in the way of stabbings, explosions, shootings and some torture and rape at the hands of the sicko Brit, McStarley. But when it comes to body on body close up fights, the jerky camera moves create a dizzying effect and is frustrating because you can’t really tell what is going on.

As for Conrad, without divulging his hidden identity, he is the one good apple among the rotten bunch that, like the game of ten little Indians, gets whittled down in no time allowing Conrad to have an ultimate showdown with the last killer, the most lethal left alive.

In a role that does not demand range, Austin basically keeps that “stone cold” face, has a few one liners that tend to be witty, and uses brute force and deadly moves when necessary to keep his character alive. He definitely has a charismatic presence on screen that deserves a meatier role to add to his potential as a great action hero.

On one hand the movie points a critical finger at society’s craving for gratuitous violence but on the other hand hypocritically exploits the very thing it is putting down. So much for acting as a social commentary! Steve Austin fans probably won’t be disappointed, but that is as good as it gets. For everyone else this is one “guilty” pleasure you might want to reconsider seeing and wait till it is condemned to video.

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