The Condemned Scott Wiper

If you’re an action fan, nothing I can say against The Condemned will spoil your fun, not that I’m in the market for trying. Brush aside the threadbare plot and risible moralising (or maybe enjoy them as side dishes) and you’ll find a reasonably stylish, hard-R actioner that gives the goods without an ounce of pretentiousness. The WWE’s "Stone Cold” Steve Austin leads a cast of death row no-hopers who’ve been purchased by an internet entertainer. Said showman then unleashes them on a deserted island and has them fight to the death for an audience of sickos. Though this reality TV angle occasions many feeble attempts at auto-critique (and with its Vince McMahon-esque impresario, is perhaps a veiled metaphor for the WWE itself), it’s mostly an excuse for a bunch of loud, burly people to kick the snot out of each other for protracted periods of time. Vinnie Jones lends a hand as the group’s ringer, who’s fed weapons and support while the other contestants must live by their wits. Needless to say, he and everybody involved in the production of the show meet grisly ends. You can’t make great claims for a film like this, and it never really gets above the generic, but it’s surprisingly enjoyable in its ridiculous sort of way. The Condemned might have a lot less charm without its bush-league preaching (which advises against the enjoyment of people hurting each other while we enjoy people hurting each other) and the hilariously forced insertion of conservative heartland America to give Austin more personal lustre — the twink-y appeals to conscience push an already suspect movie into screaming incredulity. It isn’t art but it’s not a bad time, all said. (Maple)