Monday, May 31, 2010

The Condemned (2007)

Though I'm a horror fan, I sometimes wonder why I watch so many violent films. It's a pointless argument I know, and it comes off as your typical wishy-washy moral sentiments, but it's still something I wonder. That out of the way, it's no wonder that movies that try to tackle the theme of violence in entertainment fall flat on their face. Movies that try to take this theme on usually end up either a.) Preaching to the audience with ham handed social commentary, or b.) Try to condemn violent fair while offering the same kind of thing they are attacking. Well, look at WWE film's 2007 film "The Condemned" as a movie guilty of both offenses.

Jake Conrad (Steve Austin) is in death row, accused of a crime he didn't actually commit (Yep, that old stereotype.) However, he has a chance to live-though it's in a hot new reality show created by wealthy TV producer Breckel (Robert Mammone) called "The Condemned", where he and nine other hardened criminals, murders, and rapists must fight for their lives on an island.

To be fair, there are a few things to like about "The Condemned." Some of the performances are fine, with Austin doing a good enough job as the tough guy hero. It's beloved character actor Vinnie Jones who steals the show as McStarley, the most despicable of the criminals. Jones does all that he can to make McStarley a character you love to hate, and he pulls it off with ease. Plus, a few of the action scenes are well choreographed and genuinely exciting.

That's were the good ends though. The film pretty much decides to go after violent entertainment ranging from video games, movies and reality television. Yet for all the moralizing and finger waving, the filmmakers proceed to offer the audience the very thing they are attacking. The hypocrisy of this is staggering, considering that this is World Wrestling Entertainment telling you that violence is wrong. This is a company whose Raison d'ĂȘtre is violent entertainment. You can't be a company that sells violent media, then attack the media for peddling violence. A moment near the end in which a news reporter asks the audience "are we the condemned?" is worthy of some kind of medal in it's sheer wrong mindedness. It's one of several scenes that are the definition of double standard.

At least I didn't hate this as much as "Funny Games", since this movie is actually amusing in how forced it's message is. I still can't recommend it though, as the only people who are condemned are those that watch it.

Rating: 3/10

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