The tycoon, Breckel (Robert Mammone), has conceived the most cynical YouTube programming imaginable, manipulative entertainment that his girlfriend correctly disparages as a "live snuff film." Thus cowriter-director Scott Wiper morally justifies his killer-thriller: He gives us exploitation with running social commentary.
Breckel "casts" his Nightmare Island scenario with an eye to race and culture war. There's a Japanese martial artist, Saiga (Masa Yamaguchi); a British mercenary, McStarley (Vinnie Jones); and a lethal Ghanaian babe, Yasantwa (Emelia Jones), characterized by Breckel as "an African chick with a nice rack."
A humanist Breckel is not, but it may be said that he is an equal-opportunity deployer.
Through it all, Austin acquits himself honorably, his character retaliating against violence rather than initiating it. The wrestler carries himself with decency and without self-seriousness, the qualities that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star. Austin deserves better material than this. So do we.
The Condemned *(out of four stars)
Produced by Joel Simon, directed by Scott Wiper, written by Scott Wiper and Rob Hedden, distributed by Lionsgate.
Running time: 1 hour, 53 mins.
Breckel. . . Robert Mammone
McStarley. . . Vinnie Jones
Saiga. . . Masa Yamaguchi
Julie. . . Victoria Mussett
Parent's guide: R (violence, torture, profanity, sexual violence)
Playing at: area theaters
Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey
at 215-854-5402 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://go.philly.com/flickgrrl/