2015 / Director. Roel Reiné.
Review by Shaun Crawford.
Anybody familiar with Randy Orton's previous leading-man vehicle 12 ROUNDS: RELOADED will know that he has the acting capability of a wet sock. Assuming we are gluttons for punishment WWE Films have once again crowbarred the wrestling star into another one of their direct-to-video features, this time, a sequel to Scott Wiper's THE CONDEMNED (2007).
As far as DTV actioneers go, Wiper's original was, and remains, one of the best of the bunch; an action movie starring meatheads that, at the very least, went to great efforts to make you sympathise with its hulking lead-men and touched on (albeit well-tread) current social issues. Coupled with Wiper's astute understanding of the action genre, it was a sure-fire, visceral recipe for success.
For the follow-up, Wiper has stepped off and has been replaced by the insanely prolific Dutch helmer Roel Reiné. Teaming up with Orton again (after directing him in 12 ROUNDS 2) he has the wrestler starring as bounty hunter Will Tanner, an elite urban soldier on the run from all his killer-mates as part of The Condemned tournament, an online gambling syndicate in which criminals are forced to fight each other to the death as part of a game that's broadcast to the paying public over the web.
Reiné has directed more films this year than you have read books and he shot them all to boot. The man's busy. Real busy. There's no doubt he knows how to shoot a pretty picture. Whenever he gets behind the camera he delivers possibly the most handsome DTV flicks on the shelf. Crisp, clean and oh-so-pretty. He is not, however, an actors director. Performance and depth are just two pesky things in the way of the next smattering of fisticuffs, but even they suffer.
Like most of Reiné's output he could have used a heavier hand in the edit, particularly during his action sequences - which is saying something given the film's lean running time of 89 minutess. Fatigue sets in quickly during almost every cartoonishly violent encounter Tanner has, even if Reiné pulls all the obvious tricks to keep them interesting; changing the landscapes between encounters, changing combat styles, changing weapons. Yawn. Clunky choreography and ham-fisted dialogue that raises the occasional eyebrow with a pretty explosion or slick slo-mo.
Throw in an unexplained cameo from Wes Studi and an extended cameo from Eric Roberts (in his 36th feature film appearance for 2015 ... No bullshit) and you have a pretty, dull and uninspired outing from a studio that has produced better. Perhaps THE CONDEMNED 2 is worth a butchers if you're a WWE fan or a die-hard action junkie but anybody else would do well to stay away.