Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Condemned

Ten convicted murderers are put on a deserted island and forced to fight to the death in The Condemned (2007).

The contestants have been spirited out of prisons all over the world by shady millionaire Breckel (Robert Mammone). He plans to make a massive fortune by broadcasting the contest over the internet.

Amongst the recruits for the contest are the mysterious Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) and ex-SAS soldier McStarley (Vinnie Jones). They’re told that they each have 30 hours to kill all the other contestants with the last man standing earning their freedom. If they don’t comply a bomb attached to their ankles will be detonated killing them immediately.

This was nowhere near as bad as I feared, however, the film does fail on several levels. There is plenty of gritty hand-to-hand action, but many scenes are filmed with angles or camera movements which obscure what’s really happening.

The Condemned’s plot contains undoubted parallels between Battle Royale and The Running Man. Like those films The Condemned attempts a commentary on the public’s appetite for violence. But as The Condemned includes a scene, sound tracked by The Prodigy’s Firestarter, where Vinnie Jones machine guns a room of unarmed people to death you may not be surprised to learn it isn’t altogether successful.

This aspect of the plot is also really unconvincing as it relies on conflict between the members of the production crew putting the contest on. Having signed up to work on a show where 10 murderers try to kill each other it seems a bit late in the day to have a crisis of conscience?

Anyway to the film’s climax and our main point of interest in this film. Breckel attempts to evade capture from the authorities who want to shut the contest down. He rushes to a helicopter pursued by Conrad who opens fire on the chopper with a couple of machine guns.

Conrad runs out of ammunition before he’s able to do any real damage. It looks like Breckel will get away but one of his staff (who’s oddly revolted by all the killing) appears next to Conrad. She hands him one of the explosive anklets which he primes and throws into the chopper. Kaboom!




Artistic merit

It’s always good to see a villain get his final comeuppance via an exploding helicopter. Conrad’s improvised grenade doesn’t immediately explode the helicopter. It bursts into flame then pitches forward and smashes into cliff face before exploding further and plummeting down the rocky outcrop. I couldn’t detect any obvious model work or CGI. Kudos to director Scott Wiper.

Exploding helicopter innovation

First known helicopter destroyed through the use of an exploding anklet.

Positives

About the only thing to really enjoy is the performance from Vinnie Jones. He really can’t act, yet here he kind of works in a ‘so bad it‘s good‘ way. Maybe that’s because most of his scenes are with a mute Chinese bloke and another non-actor in the hulking, bullet-headed shape of Steve Austin so there‘s no danger of him being shown up.



Negatives

Austin could pitch for the Yankees on the evidence of this film. Pitching the exploding anklet into the helicopter perfectly from at least 50 yards. Unerringly accurate.

Favourite quote

“Sounds like you had a hard life. Good thing it’s over.”

Interesting fact

Vinnie Jones was originally the lead in this film with Austin in his role. However, after World Wrestling Entertainment got involved in the production of the casting was switched with Austin taking the lead role.

4 comments:

  1. I don't know why I've never seen this one, but I'll have to check it out at some point, if only for the great Exploding Helicopter scene.

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  2. Really don't know whether you'd like this one or not. It's very efficient but lacks for me that little bit flair, fun or whatever to make it really enjoyable.

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  3. Hang on, isn't this the plot to The Running Man?

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  4. There are similarities to The Running Man, but there are also quite a few differences. In The Condemned the contestants are fighting each other, not "heroes" in the employ of the broadcaster.

    The Condemned is also attempting a much more direct critique of modern society than The Running Man.

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