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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bad Movie Month feels Stone Cold about The Condemned

For this round of Wrestle Movie Mania on Bad Movie Month, my sister needed to take a break, which is fine since this particular entry is rather grim.

I still thought of her as I watched The Condemned as much of the dialogue,along with starring WWE former champion Steve "Stone Cold" Austin's performance, reminded me strongly of some of those Longmont Potion Castle prank call bits that she's played for me.

The title of the movie is also the title of the so-called "reality show" that media millionaire Ian Breckel(Robert Mammone) sets up on a remote island where death row criminals from around the world are meant to fight to the death in order to entertain the online subscribers of this brutal broadcast. Austin's character, Jack Conrad, is a last minute recruit who happens to be a secret good guy.

 How do we know he's a secret good guy? Well, when Jack is first seen in this story, he happens to have a pet mouse in his crowded prison cell-how very Green Mile of him!:

As the film goes along, we learn that Jack is really a former Special Forces soldier who still does secret missions for our government. He happened to be caught during his latest one and sticking to his false ID in a South American jail when this little opportunity came along.

Jack also tries not to kill anyone who doesn't deserve it, as well as contact the love of his life awaiting him in the US who happens to be contacted by a thoughtful federal agent in return. All of this is supposed to make Jack the big hero and sympathetic, which is fine but Austin's acting abilities are rather limited and this thin string of circumstances makes him no more than an oversized action figure here.

I remember watching Austin during the height of his fame and trust me when I say that his monotone cadence is no different than when he was in the ring or later in his career hosting Broken Skull Challenge. Other than being able to say a few swear words uncensored, he's about the same as he ever was:

Granted, the movie does have some decent fight scenes and can be watchable but what really brings the whole tone crashing down are the big "Oh,look what we're doing, this is SO bad!" moments.

Sure, even an exploitation flick can have moments of reflection and make a little savvy social commentary at times. However, those sequences in The Condemned are loudly announced and done several times without significant plot or character development.

For example, the media staff of Evil Media Millionaire gets especially queasy when one of the main bad guy contestants is attacking a husband and wife team(to be fair, the more disturbing parts are implied rather than shown). However, for all their bitching and moaning, no one, not even Evil MM's regretful girlfriend, makes a move to halt the proceedings. This is repeated later, with again no one doing anything that alters the plot in any meaningful fashion.

Later, when Jack's girlfriend and their buddies at the local bar get to cheer their man on as he takes down a really nasty opponent, a newscaster takes a beat(after airing her interview with EMM) to lecture everyone about how horrible it is that everyone is watching this show in the first place.

 Look, if you're going to serve me up a plate of greasy cheese fries, don't dump a batch of baked quinoa on top to make yourself feel better. It only makes the whole thing more tasteless.

One thing that I will list as a positive for this movie is Vinnie Jones as McStarley, a truly vicious contender who eagerly puts on the best show he can. Along with EMM, he's the big villain of the story and plays his part well.

 He teams up with another contender(Masa Yamguchi, who is given no lines and no personality other than liking to wear sunglasses) and quickly targets Jack as a possible ally or enemy. Of course, they become foes and have a big showdown or two before the end credits roll.

 Towards the end of the movie(which feels longer than two hours), McStarley does turn on EMM and company, which is probably why none of them did try to redeem themselves early on there, I suppose.  At least Jones does give his all to the part and to his credit, does more than just earn a paycheck here:

Out of all of the movies that I've seen for this session of Bad Movie Month, The Condemned is not the worst of the bunch but it is blandly boilerplate with dashes of salty sleaze oozing between the cracked plot points.

Well, all good and bad things must come to an end, so before Labor Day weekend, we will be showcasing what may be the truly rotten apple in our Wrestle Movie Mania barrel, See No Evil.

This hackneyed horror film stars Kane as a brooding slasher stalking a typical group of dumb as a doorknob teenagers in an abandoned hotel. Oddly enough, I may take a brief break from this schlock to check out Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. That at least is a different brand of cinematic train wreck:

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