"The Condemned 2" stars Randy Orton as a likable underachiever who
disappoints his family and associates. A similar criticism could be
leveled at the film.
The story concept is actually a vast improvement over "The Condemned"
(2007), which was basically a retelling of Richard Connell's "The Most
Dangerous Game" with multiple "contestants" pitted against one another
and video surveillance. This version adds elements of films like "The
10th Victim" and "The Tournament;" a revenge plot similar to the "12
Rounds" movies; the blood sport promotion to jaded reality television
viewers used in the "Death Race" films and the idea of jaded gamblers
wagering on the survival of the contestants.
The script has numerous elements that could have been developed much
more effectively. The gambling angle was highlighted, but made little
sense. Bookies make money regardless of the outcome of sporting events.
It makes no sense at all that Raul would be concerned that the events
would somehow break the house.
Another intriguing angle is how the villain managed to intimidate and
coerce several characters who seem particularly insusceptible to
coercion. This is never explored or explained and detracts from the
film's tenuous credibility. One character, presumably acting because of
threats to his family, chooses death over surrender when death holds no
promise of saving his family, but surrender might.
The strong suit in WWE films is usually the martial arts scenes. The
gunfights, car chases and pyrotechnics are typically less imaginative.
TC2 is no exception, but the martial arts scenes are not impressive and
there is too much reliance on gunplay. The film might be more effective
if it played to the strengths of its actors.
A few incidents defy all logic and reason. A character fires a short
burst with an assault rifle at another character standing a few feet
away, but misses. A character suffers a "through- and-through" bullet
wound from a .50 caliber BMG sniper rifle that not only fails to rip
off his arm, but doesn't slow him down much. Two characters survive a
fragmentation grenade that detonates a few feet away from them. Not
only are they uninjured, but they can hear each other speak in normal
The story lacks a romantic angle. The only subplot concerns father-son
love, which is a little ham-fisted. A similar subplot was handled much
more effectively and efficiently in "Inception." Several attractive
girls show interest in Tanner, but he never responds with much
Technical aspects are generally passable. Lighting is a bit weak and
the typical overdependence on jiggly-cam shots is evident, although not
as obvious as in some other films. It takes time to set up a tripod,
level out the bubbles, brace it with sandbags and choreograph the
action with the camera movement. One can appreciate the simplicity and
economy of Steadicam rigs. But films that rely extensively on
jiggly-cam shots often feel like the director has asked the cameraman
to cover the action as best as he can. The results often seem haphazard
rather than planned and crafted. One of the scenes that does seem well
crafted is a minor scene involving Tanner changing a tire. Another
involves a lot of dirt.
Overall, the film is passable as a no-brainer action film. There are a
few good shots, including one where Tanner camouflages himself, a
slow-motion close-up of the effect of shock waves and the destruction
of a flying object. The action is watchable, but uninspired. The
characters do as well as can be expected with what they're given.
The film has a sort of half-baked theme about Tanner needing to follow
though and the nature of accepting responsibility. But Tanner never has
a plausible option not to continue to the conclusion. He is pushed
along by outside forces. The characters who actually make moral choices
are his father and two members of his team. In an early scene, a judge
imposes an ultimatum which motivates Tanner, but that ultimatum is
later abrogated by a character who doesn't have the authority to do so
and offers a reward which would ordinarily be unavailable to somebody
convicted of manslaughter.
The major problems lie in the script and direction. The script seems
like it's about two re- writes short of complete and the direction
seems slipshod, haphazard and unplanned. However, it squeezes in a lot
of action, usually at a lively pace and the scenery looks nice.
If one can crank up ones willful suspension of disbelief to a
moderately high level and sit back and enjoy the show, it's not a bad
way to fritter away ninety minutes.