Bullet Points: The Condemned 2
I am not looking to pit the Randy Orton fans against the Dean Ambrose fans, but when I reviewed Dean Ambrose’s acting debut in 12 Rounds 3: Lockdown, the doors at the Ambrose Asylum flew open and Dean’s fans checked out my review in droves.
Will the Randy Orton fans do the same or better for the WWE’s Apex Predator as I review the latest film from WWE Studios, The Condemned 2?
- The Premise: Randy Orton plays Will Tanner, a bounty hunter who accidentally kills a fugitive he’s trying to bring in. Tanner is charged with involuntary manslaughter and receives a two year suspended sentence. These events are a wake up call of sorts for Tanner, who decides it is time to put his bounty hunter days in the past and move on. So Will gets a job as a tow truck driver, with plans to make an honest living and enjoy a life of peace and quiet with no guns or criminals involved. But before the audience can feel like they have been condemned to watch a movie about tow trucks…
- From Outta Nowhere: Tanner receives a call that a motorist needs assistance, it just so happens that motorist turns out to be one of his former bounty hunter co-workers, Michaels. After Tanner gets his buddy’s car running again, the two grab a beer at a local watering hole when Michaels informs Tanner he has to do something he doesn’t want to… he has to kill Tanner. Tanner is now forced to defend himself and Michaels ends up being the one who is killed. Michaels’ death starts a change reaction of events where Tanner’s past comes back to haunt him in the form of his well trained and deadly colleagues from his bounty hunting days.
- Misguided Villainy: The main bad guy in The Condemned 2 is played by Stephen Michael Quezada of Breaking Bad fame. Quezada’s character, Raul Baccaro, was the right hand man of Cyrus Merrick, the dude bounty hunter Will Tanner accidentally kills at the start of the movie. With Merrick out of the way, Baccaro rises to the top of the illegal gambling trade. He goes from assisting Cyrus with putting together the torture of homeless guys for sport, to running a slick and well organized game of life and death, that only the upper crust of society are invited to wager on (because if action movies have taught us anything, wealthy people love to see other people fight to the death). Baccaro uses blackmail and money to convince Tanner’s former co-workers to hunt Tanner down and kill him, while his clientele gamble on who will live or die and watch it all unfold live courtesty of Baccaro’s drone cameras. Without Tanner taking out Cyrus, Baccaro would still just be a stooge and not the boss. So if anything Baccaro should be thankful to Tanner and not strong arming people to murder the man. It is the one aspect of the movie that didn’t really make sense to me.
The Condemned 2 was another solid effort by WWE Studios. I’m not positive about this, but I don’t believe the goal of WWE Studios is to churn out Academy Award winners, but instead produce action films like many members of their audience grew up on. And if that is indeed their goal, that goal was met with The Condemned 2. There was plenty of gunfire and explosions to keep the adrenaline flowing and the action audience engaged.
This was my first opportunity to watch Randy Orton, the actor. Orton’s work in the film was believable and if his nagging shoulder injuries keep him out of in ring competition with World Wrestling Entertainment, I believe he has the opportunity to keep his career going in the world of action entertainment.
And I’ll keep this review going with some bonus Bullet Points…
- Familiar Faces: Eric Roberts plays Will Tanner’s dad, Frank Tanner. Frank is a retired bounty hunter who passed down the family business to his son. Frank isn’t happy that Will gave up the business he built, but that disappointment doesn’t prevent him from coming to his son’s aide when it mattered. Roberts is no stranger to action movie fans with his roles in Best of the Best, The Dark Knight and Depth Charge (with Iron Eagle’s Jason Gedrick) to name a few… Wes Studi makes a brief appearance in the film as Cyrus Merrick. I’ll always remember Studi as Victor Sagat in the live action Street Fighter movie.
- Reineunion: The Condemned 2 reunites Randy Orton with director, Roel Reine. The two worked together on another WWE Studios sequel, 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded.
- Nod to the Past: I did like that Raul Baccaro references the original Condemned (that one starred “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) when he is discussing his operation with one of his patrons.
- Exploding Limo: WWE programming is no stranger to exploding limos, so it only makes sense that a WWE Studios produced film would also have an exploding limo.
- Zach Galifianakis: One of Tanner’s ex-Bounty Hunter buddies, Cooper (played by Alex Knight), reminded me of an explosive loving Zach Galifianakis.
- The Condemned 3: Will we see Randy Orton return for The Condemned 3? It certainly seems plausible given the way the film ends and my insincere apologies for anyone who feels that this Bullet Point spoiled the fact that the action hero doesn’t die at the end.