Can someone explain where a movie executive-produced by World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon gets off lecturing viewers about how awful they are for enjoying violence in entertainment? Before The Condemned hops up on its high horse, we do get several cool battles involving a Texas redneck (Stone Cold Steve Austin), an ex–Special Air Service sadist (Vinnie Jones), a crazed martial artist (Masa Yamaguchi), and a 7-foot Soviet (Nathan Jones) on a Battle Royale–style island where 10 death-row inmates are rigged with explosives and only one gets out alive. Audiences are cued to cheer for the Mortal Kombat–style fatalities, but the line is apparently crossed when two men kick the crap out of a woman—and enjoy it. If you enjoy it too, well, you're a sick puppy, says director Scott Wiper. Still: Flaws, double standards, and all, this is the most entertaining WWE release to date. Then, in the second half of the film, Austin finally loses his temper and gets down to the business of revenge. Don't feel guilty for enjoying the violence. Just thank Vince.
Austin (left) demonstrates Method acting to Macu Bennett.
Opens at Meridian and other theaters, Fri., April 27. Rated R. 100 minutes.