The Condemned

3 out of 5 stars
STONE COLDCOCKS Austin, right, slugs it out with Jones.
STONE COLDCOCKS Austin, right, slugs it out with Jones.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A muddled, reactionary pulp screed with the formalized sadism (and financial backing) of pro wrestling, The Condemned sprays its fury wide: media manipulators, political opportunists and technology-pacified couch potatoes are among the collaterally damaged. Paying audiences don’t get off so easy either.

The setup, in which the desert-island death match of a group of inmates from around the globe is webcast by an unctuous Internet impresario (Mammone), echoes countless movies (most intriguingly demonlover and Zodiac-killer fave The Most Dangerous Game), as well as the usual reality-show suspects. The film’s multiculti makeup—its cons represent practically every major ethnicity—and free-floating populist rage set it apart, but there’s unsurprising ickiness. For one thing, the violence approaches Rob Zombie levels in its mercilessness toward women. For another, despite the we-are-the-world inclusiveness, one of the contest’s finalists (Austin, a bruiser with an endearingly dainty gait) is an unjustly imprisoned white American Spec Ops spook—from Texas, no less.

Cake-having-and-eating status notwithstanding, there’s something to be said for The Condemned’s argument that not even the scum of the earth deserves to be fodder for mass entertainment—or, if you choose to read between the lines, for cannons. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Mark Holcomb



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