From the writer of Tekken and the “go-to” guy for straight to DVD sequels, WWE superstar Randy Orton takes over as he’s forced to be part of a deadly game and no, this is not 12 Rounds.
Will Tanner is a former bounty hunter who no longer gets himself in the business after a botched mission results in the death of target Cyrus Merrick. After serving some time for manslaughter, Will is released and finds a job as a tow truck driver for longtime friend Danielle. As Will begins to feel more comfortable with his new job, he can’t help but think about the mission as well as the berating his father gave him after the incident.
Will’s life is about to change when he runs into old friend Michaels, who was on his team the night of the botched mission. After Will fixes his truck, Michaels offers him a drink at a local cantina, where he attempts to kill Will. Will, not knowing why all of a sudden his friend has to kill him, fights and ultimately kills Michaels in self-defense. Will soon learns that the members of his old team have been forced to kill him as they are all targets in a deadly game orchestrated by Raul Bacarro, Merrick’s old partner who gathers the high rollers to wager on whether or not Will can survive the game.
The 2007 film The Condemned was the lead role debut of WWE legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and had quite an interesting concept, which involved a Battle Royale-esque plot in which convicts faced each other to the death for an internet broadcast game for the high rollers. This sequel now features WWE superstar Randy Orton as a former bounty hunter who is apparently involved in a new version of the game. However, it seems more like the “game” here is akin to The Most Dangerous Game and Turkey Shoot rather than something like the original Condemned.
Don’t get me wrong, Randy Orton has the look of an action hero. The problem isn’t so much that he lacks charisma because here he plays more of a worrywart who wonders why all of a sudden his former team turns on him. The problem is that the supporting characters, with the exception of Will’s father Frank, played well by Eric Roberts, are pretty much forgettable. It’s not so much like the original film, where the characters had a little, even if it wasn’t much, depth.
For this film it’s more like this following riff. “Good to see you again, come with me, now I must kill you” and then old friend dies. It grows tiring after a while. However, there is a key moment that seemed somewhat unexpected that brought the film one redemption point. When one of the former team fights with Will and all of a sudden he disappears, the former member looks for him and in a nicely shot slow motion take, Orton rises up from the dirt and sand.
Wes Studi, despite getting third billing for the film, is only given a cameo appearance as the film’s catalyst, a target who is killed in a botched mission from Will and his team. Another shred of redemption comes in the form of Steven Michael Quezada’s Raul, the main villain of the film. He may seem there only for the money, but it is clear when he gets extremely frustrated at Will’s survival of the game, it is clear that he must take drastic measures in quite a predictable manner.
The action is pretty much a hit and miss type of deal. While the gun battles are not too bad, some of the fight scenes could have been better edited. While it deals with close-quarter style combat, it’s more of tussling on the ground and even when knives are used, they aren’t exactly convincing. It seems a bit rushed at times and that’s not a good thing. It’s quite a disappointment at times and even the climactic fight of the movie seems more or less not exciting because for one it is shot in the dark despite fireworks exploding behind the fight but again, the choreography is marred by some bad editing.
As much as one may want to see Randy Orton succeed as an action hero, he will need to not do sequels because The Condemned 2 is pretty disappointing when compared to the “stone cold” original and have a supporting cast who isn’t truly comprised of throwaway characters, yet there is little redemption in Eric Roberts as his father and Steven Michael Quezada’s villain.
WFG RATING: D
Lionsgate presents a WWE Studios production. Director: Roél Reine. Producer: Michael J. Luisi. Writer: Alan McElroy. Cinematography: Roél Reine. Editing: Radu Ion.
Cast: Randy Orton, Eric Roberts, Wes Studi, Steven Michael Quezada, Bill Stinchcomb, Alex Knight, Dylan Kenin, Michael Sheets, Morse Bicknell, Mark Sivertsen, Monique Candelaria.