DVD Release Date: Tuesday, January 19, 2016
In 2007, when WWE Studios was still young, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin starred in The Condemned, a passable though forgettable action thriller about a group of convicts sent to a remote island and pitted against each other in a brutal fight to the death. Guess who won?
Eight years later, WWE Studios has resurrected the title for a sequel, which was for a time subtitled Desert Prey, but that was curiously dropped before release. This is definitely a sequel in name only, as it shares a similar plotline but nothing else from Scott Wiper’s film.
This time around Randy Orton steps into the lead role as Will Tanner, a professional bounty hunter who accidentally kills one of his targets, a man named Cyrus Merrick (Wes Studi), who was running a sick gambling ring in which customers were betting on which of two homeless men would die first from IV poisoning. Will is let go on probation on the condition that he leave the bounty hunting business. This doesn’t sit well with his father Frank (Roberts), who spent his entire career building up the reputation of the company his son eventually took over.
Unfortunately for Will, Cyrus’ right-hand man Raul Baccaro (Steven Michael Quezada) holds a grudge. That seems strange because Raul didn’t seem to have any love for Cyrus, but that’s hardly the biggest problem with this movie. Raul designs a new game, one that pits Will’s former bounty hunting team against him in a fight to the death (there’s the loose connection to the first movie), with patrons gambling on who will survive.
For a B-movie this is not a bad storyline, and it shouldn’t require much to be successful. Orton really doesn’t have a leading man presence and seems better suited to more supporting roles, such as That’s What I Am. He’s also not helped by a witless script by Alan McElroy that makes Will Tanner one of the dumber men on the planet, trusting old team members that show up after other old team members have already tried to kill him.
Some of the fight scenes are solid, and the dialogue has moments that escape banality. But for the most part, The Condemned 2 can’t even live up to the modest expectations of a straight-to-DVD (essentially) WWE Studios offering.