Questioning Media Violence
Release Date: April 27, 2007
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 113 minutes
Director: Scott Wiper
Producer: Joel Simon
Writer: Scott Wiper ands Rob Hedden
Address Comments To:John Feltheimer and Peter E. Strauss
AKA Lions Gate Films
2700 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 449-9200
Fax: (310) 255-3870
The premise of the plot involves a greedy TV producer, who stages a battle to the death, televised on the Internet, among death row inmates from Third World countries. The TV producer has strapped bombs to their ankles. The bombs automatically will go off in 30 hours unless the inmates cooperate and one person is left alive after the others have been killed. Without the ankle bombs, the inmates could just hide in a cave until the show ends. In addition to a couple of women, the inmates include a cruel British mercenary named Ian McStarley (played by Vinnie Jones) and an American soldier named Jack Conrad (played by wrestler Steve Austin) who was sentenced to death when he was caught after completing a secret mission to blow up a drug factory in Latin America.
Jack tries to avoid killing the others, but he is pushed into taking action when the British mercenary, with help from an Asian inmate in the group, brutally rapes and murders one of the women and tortures her husband, another inmate placed on the island, to death. Meanwhile, the TV producer refuses to pull the plug on the event, even though some on his team complain about the obvious cruelty of the British mercenary. The situation becomes even more obnoxious when the TV producer starts helping the evil British mercenary to kill Jack and win the competition.
THE CONDEMNED makes some good points about the bloodlust of the human race that makes us watch more and more violent programming. The movie discusses the issue of media violence in a way that makes the viewer ponder the issue. There's a tension in the movie, however, because the filmmakers keep pushing the envelope when it comes to the murders and brutality in the storyline. Thus, although the camera doesn't linger on the more brutal scenes, or wallow in blood, the movie goes a bit too far and starts to seem to contradict itself. For example, in the movie's second half, there are some gratuitous pointblank shootings and cruel implied torture and rape scenes. More restraint would make the movie's moral points about violence more effective. Also, the movie's foul language is even more excessive. That said, wrestler Steve Austin makes an auspicious debut as the kind of positive, masculine American hero that audiences can root for honestly and passionately.
The public should help MOVIEGUIDE® to convince Hollywood to get rid of R-rated content altogether and greatly tone down its PG-13 and PG content to a more sensible level so that more people can go to the movies without wallowing so much in their sinful bloodlust and damaging their moral conscience. Exciting stories like THE CONDEMNED can be told more successfully and more effectively without such content. Hollywood has done it in the past; it can do so in the future.
THE CONDEMNED makes some good moral points about the bloodlust that makes people watch violent programming. The filmmakers keep pushing the envelope, however, when it comes to the story's brutality and murder count. Thus, although the movie doesn't linger on the more brutal scenes, or wallow in blood, its violent scenes go too far and the movie starts to contradict itself. That said, wrestler Steve Austin makes an auspicious debut as the positive American hero, Jack.