STARRING STEVE AUSTIN, VINNIE JONES, TRENT SULLIVAN, RICK HOFFMAN AND MATTHEW JONES. DIRECTED BY SCOTT WIPER. RELEASED BY LIONSGATE. RATED R; 1:40
We all have our standards. One of mine is that a movie can’t have a gratuitous rape scene and still be considered successful entertainment.
“The Condemned,” about death-row murderers dropped on an island to kill each other for TV, has two rape scenes — one successful, one attempted, both repulsive.
Ah, there’s more. This WWE co-produced film has exploitation, suicide, torture and death by knife, gun, fist, fire, explosives and some weird neck-breaking maneuver that only works in movies. It’s all presented in an unwatchable, over-edited and under-acted soup of blood.
I love a good action movie, and violence can be redeemed in a palatable context. “Aliens,” “Kill Bill” and “Battle Royale” (the movie this one blatantly rips off) were all artful enough to justify emotional investment. It takes a great director to navigate these waters. This movie lacks the brains or heart to be anything but depressing.
Director Scott Wiper might contend “The Condemned” does have standards. True, there are hackneyed tirades against reality TV, including segments where the entertainment starts killing off the entertained. Ironically, Wiper, the mouthpiece of WWE, seems to say the fakeness of wrestling and movie violence put them on higher ground than “Cops” or the most demeaning moments of “American Idol.”
While technically true — real violence is worse than fake — comparing yourself to reality TV doesn’t translate to high standards. Still, “The Condemned” was not financed for its political subtext. It was made to make money off of gratuitous depictions of rape and torture. That makes it a crappy movie.