The Condemned 2 – Review (* 1/2)

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What do you get when a movie production blows almost its entire budget on drones, dune buggies and big explosions? Apparently a lunk-headed straight-to-VOD sequel that’s not good for much else, making the underrated 2007 Stone Cold Steve Austin-starring guilty pleasure original seem significantly better by comparison.

Former bounty hunter Will Tanner (Randy Orton) finds himself being hunted down by his former buddies as part of a new Condemned tournament, overseen by the villainous, money-hungry Raul (Breaking Bad’s Steven Michael Quezada). With his steely father Frank (Oscar nominee Eric Roberts) in tow, Will must survive to become the last man standing.

Gone are the high(er)-budget thrills of the original movie, which was blessed with a cinematic location and entertaining cast, replaced with a premise evidently reined-in for budgetary reasons, and a wildly inconsistent roster doing little of enjoyment or interest. The original may have been a shameless reprise of both The Running Man and Battle Royale, but at least it had boundless energy, brutal violence and personality to spare. Here? It all feels so perfunctory and effortless.

Randy Orton isn’t the most natural of actors but he proved competent enough in 2013’s surprisingly not-terrible 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded, though his re-teaming with director Roel Reiné here just never gains much forward momentum at all. Too much screen time is wasted on the dull father-son family dynamic, the prevailing formula is too repetitious (oh, here comes yet another former friend to kill our intrepid hero), and Reiné’s direction is too clumsy to even make the basic most of the action beats.

It won’t exactly be a shock to most and if you’re remotely interested in this movie as a WWE fan or otherwise you’re probably going to watch it anyway, but The Condemned 2 is a feckless stinker, a wildly underwhelming actioner lacking the charisma, humour or thrills to make it worthwhile. 

* 1/2

The Condemned 2 is available now on Blu-ray and VOD

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