"Stone Cold" Steve Austin takes his wrestling moves to the big screen

The Condemned

on April 27, 2007 by Annlee Ellingson
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Ever since The Rock made the successful transition from the mat to the movies with The Scorpion King , World Wrestling Entertainment has been trying to recapture that magic by grooming other stars of the square ring for a segue to the big screen. So far Kane ( See No Evil ) and John Cena ( The Marine ) have made the attempt. The latest, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, is most likely to succeed. Although the Texan lacks The Rock's charm and boyish good looks, Stone Cold's got a hardened redneck charisma that, in the right project, lifts the ropes for him to become another bankable action star.

Here Austin plays Jack Conrad, a death row prisoner discovered in a Third World jail who is whisked off with nine other convicts to a deserted island to compete in an Internet reality show. Like a perverted season of Survivor , the last man (or woman) standing wins. That catch is that, in order to collect the prize of freedom and a pocket full of cash, everyone else has to be dead.

A throwback to '80s actioners like Die Hard and 48 Hours , The Condemned relies on less computer-generated special effects than hand-to-hand combat choreography familiar to anyone who watches Wrestlemania. However, surprisingly, the violence here isn't glamorized but rather quite horribly rendered and its sociological critique relatively subtle—at least initially. Moreover, the setup is quite topical—it's not so far-fetched that an enterprising producer would turn to the web for the ultimate in reality programming.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers forfeit any appreciation they've earned from the audience by going over the top in both plot and theme. Just in case we hadn't yet clued into their critical take on the current state of popular entertainment, they pick up a metal chair and beat us over the head with it.
Distributor: Lionsgate
Cast: Steve Austin, Vinnie Jones, Robert Mammone and Victoria Mussett
Director: Scott Wiper
Screenwriters: Scott Wiper and Rob Hedden
Producer: Joel Simon
Genre: Action thriller
Rating: R for pervasive strong brutal violence, and for language
Running time: 113 min.
Release date: April 27, 2007
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