Monday, July 04, 2016

The Condemned 2

Another failed attempt by WWE Studios to find the next Dwayne Johnson, this braindead sequel stars pro wrestler Randy Orton, who previously worked with director Roel Reine in 12 ROUNDS 2. THE CONDEMNED 2 is the kind of movie where a guy lures another guy to the desert in the middle of nowhere to invite him to have a drink, so he can kill him in a crowded cantina.

Reine, a specialist in direct-to-video sequels (such as the DEATH RACE sequels), is as good as anybody working regularly in the genre who isn’t Isaac Florentine, and he and screenwriter Alan McElroy (WRONG TURN) deserve credit for not simply repeating the beats from THE CONDEMNED. Reine likes explosions and putting his actors near them, which amps up the suspense. Unfortunately, the script is dumb and forces the characters to do dumb things just to get the film to the next plot point or setpiece.

Orton stars as a former bounty hunter named Will Tanner serving a suspended sentence for killing bail jumper Wes Studi (PENNY DREADFUL) in self defense. Having given up the family business left to him by dad Eric Roberts (STAR 80), Tanner is happy with his new non-violent life as a tow truck driver until his old buddies show up one day and try to kill him. All were threatened by Raul (Steven Michael Quezada, the actor you hire when you can’t afford Wes Studi for more than one day), who has invited rich jerks in tuxedos and cocktail dresses to an abandoned factory to gamble on Tanner’s life expectancy. One of many lazy plotholes is why these hardass bounty hunters are so afraid of Raul, who isn’t big and scary and threatening.

Also, given that Raul has Tanner to thank for his new fortune and stature, due to his moving up in the ranks when Studi died, the revenge motive seems thin. But this is a movie where a guy hands Tanner a convenient map to Raul’s location just before trying to kill him (what would a dead Tanner need with a map?), so writing it wasn’t a priority for the filmmakers. Neither was acting, as Orton is just about a complete failure as a leading man. Unable to express even the tiniest of emotions, he also seems clumsy in the action scenes. The New Mexico desert is a nice contrast to the lush forests of Australia seen in THE CONDEMNED, and this sequel is thankfully less meanspirited than the original.

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