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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Condemned 2 (Blu-ray)
The Condemned 2 (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // January 19, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Nick Hartel | posted March 1, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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Another day, another WWE film. This time it's a sequel from a nearly decade old WWE film, "The Condemned". Starring "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, "The Condemned" was WWE Films' third major effort following the horror flop "See No Evil" and the John Cena vehicle that failed to reach its destination, "12 Rounds". Far from high art, "The Condemned" was essentially aping the "Battle Royale" phenomenon but instead of social commentary and schoolkids, threw together a bunch of nasty convicts along with a few not-so-bad, down on their luck cases. While "The Condemned" ended with all its loose ends tied up, one would wonder how a sequel could exist; well, in typical WWE Films fashion, it's a sequel in name/concept only, this time replacing a bonafide legend and national treasure with, well...Randy Orton. Not a slouch in the ring by any means, Orton is no Austin, especially when it comes to the mic. The result is interesting, to say the least.

Beginning with a fairly flat opening set piece establishing Orton as Will Tanner, a bounty hunter with a team set on shutting down Cyrus Merrick's sick death gambling ring (I'm not sure what the official term is, but you get the picture). Now, before viewers get their hopes up when they see esteemed actor Wes Studi in the role of villain, he's quickly taken down and Orton and crew are held accountable by the law for using lethal force. It's a confusing concept that seems to have been inspired by the set-up behind "Con-Air" but without a terrible Nic Cage accent. Out on parole, Tanner finds himself being hunted by Merrick's second-in-command and members of his team becoming unwitting participants in Raul Bacarro's (Steven Michael Quezada) revamped and high-tech gambling ring. The stakes are simple: how and when will Tanner be killed. From his sinister, yet swanky lair full of the criminal elite laying down cash on the growing odds, Bacarro pursues Tanner with a force of henchmen and an army of drones serving as the proverbial eye-in-the-sky.

Despite an advertised running time of 90-minutes, "The Condemned 2" barely makes it to the 80-minute mark, instead running its closing credits at half speed to pad time. Even then, the 80-minutes feel quite dull for what should be a brainless action film. The script is easy to fault as it is entirely implausible, gratuitously dull, and completely phoned in, when it comes to dialogue. Orton does the film no favors himself, looking bored out of his mind, completely phoning in his entire performance. It's a shame he gets far more dialogue than fellow wrestling actor, Dean Ambrose got in "12 Rounds: Lockdown" when Ambrose has leagues more charisma. Instead, what little charisma exists in the film comes from Eric Roberts as Will's father, Frank. Even then, the normally serviceable Roberts (and when he wants, quite engaging), begins to grow weary as the plot stretches on from one lousy set piece to another.

Eventually "The Condemned 2" comes to an awkward, rushed finish and it would be a real struggle to name any sequence that was thrilling. At best, a mediocre chase through a rocky desert canyon rigged with mines, somewhat reminded me of the heroes in "Tremors" being pursued by the graboids. The sad fact, that "The Condemned 2" fails so resoundingly as an action film that my mind drifted to thoughts of an early-90s horror comedy, speaks volumes. In the pantheon of WWE Films, "The Condemned 2" lingers at the bottom of the barrel, making one wish for "12 Rounds: Lockdown" and its hackneyed "Die Hard" knockoff, or even one of the more recent "Marine" films.


THE VIDEO

The 1080p 1.78:1 transfer is tidy looking, low-budget effort. The film is generally free of any grain or nagging digital noise, without any obnoxious DNR. Colors are fairly bright and intense, especially as the dank opening sequence opens up to more earthy looking desert scenery. Detail is well above average and overall, the transfer is free of compression artifacts.


THE AUDIO

The English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a case of throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the viewer. The LFE can be overly intense during the chaotic action sequences, to the point, where I feel some more refined surround work is lost in the process. Dialogue is clear and thankfully mixed at a level that holds its ground with the intense effects. It could be a slightly more warm and natural track, with some exteriors not sounding as hollow as one would expect. English, Spanish, and English SDH subtitles are included.


EXTRAS

The only extras are two brief featurettes, "Drones" highlights the film's ongoing gimmick of aerial surveillance, while "Fight For Your Life" is a forgettable EPK piece.


FINAL THOUGHTS

"The Condemned 2" lives up to its title in condemning unsuspecting viewers to exactly the type of awful, cliched experience they might expect from a WWE Film sequel, ten years later and featuring an actor with far less the star power than the original. Pointless in every aspect, it's better left forgotten alongside other maligned WWE Films as "Leprechaun: Origins" and "Jingle All the Way 2". Skip It.

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