Stars: Randy Orton, Eric Roberts, Wes Studi, Steven Michael Quezada, Bill Stinchcomb, Alex Knight, Dylan Kenin, Michael Sheets, Morse Bicknell, Mark Sivertsen | Written by Alan B. McElroy | Directed by Roel Reiné
Like The Marine franchise, which featured a new WWE superstar in the lead role in each consecutive film, The Condemned 2 sees Randy Orton (who also took over the lead from John Cena for 12 Rounds 2) stars as bounty hunter turned hunted man, Will Tanner; and – like Orton’s 12 Rounds 2 – this film pales in comparison to the original, abandoning everything that made that Running Man-esque action film so much fun.
The Condemned was one of WWE Studios earliest – and best received – movies, alongside The Marine and See No Evil. And whilst those two films have already had sequels, it’s taken almost ten years for someone to put together a sequel to the Stone Cold Steve Austin starring original. Unfortunately The Condemned 2 replaces the Most Dangerous Game style story of the first film with something akin to modern-day reality TV, and not the good kind (if there is any good reality TV?). Turns out there’s a reason there’s been ten years between films…
Worse than changing the core of the film – from people trapped on an island to The Tournament style national killing competition – is the fact that this change in focus also leads to a total lack of logic. The first film had it’s own internal logic, The Condemned 2 has none whatsoever. Characters survive explosions and high calibre gunshot wounds; they change allegiances left, right and centre and there’s a serious case of stormtrooper aiming at work, i.e. people shoot each otehr a close range and STILL miss!
The plot is as simple as can be. Will Tanner and his bounty hunting crew take down criminal-gambling entrepreneur Cyrus Merrick (Wes Studi) who, during the bust, is accidentally killed by Tanner. Escaping with a stash of cash and all of Cyrus’s data, his right hand man Raoul (Steven Michael Quezada) takes over the operation – but with a difference. Instead of betting on homeless people, Raoul makes it his mission to get revenge on Tanner by blackmailing his former colleagues to kill him. All the while observed via drone, by a high-paying clients of Raoul, all of whom are gambling on who will survive.
Sound familiar? Yes, The Condemned 2 riffs on a myriad of films that have come before it without, trying to ride the coattails of those films it seeks to emulate without success. What the film does have going for it is the scenery, director Roel Reine – who is an old hand at direct to DVD sequels having helmed the likes of Death Race 2 & 3, Scorpion King 3 amd The Marine 2 – really shows off the barren, yet beautiful, landscapes to the fullest.
It just a shame that the films other asset, Randy Orton, is wasted in the lead role. A 6’5″ man-mountain, Randy Orton could be as badass in the movies as he appears in the ring. But instead he’s left to occasionally shoulder-barge some folks while utilising a gun rather than – as you would expect – his fists. His talents were put to much better use in 12 Rounds 2 than they are here. Which is a shame, had this film had the kind of balls-to-the-wall action that film did, then The Condemned 2 could be on to a winner. As it is, this is nothing more than a generic, straight-to-market, decidely average action movie.
The Condemned 2 is released on DVD on February 29th.