Twitter Plot Summary: Randy Orton plays an EMT who has to complete 12 dangerous rounds or else his wife will be killed.
Five Point Summary:
1. Put your cleavage away, woman. Now isn’t the time.
2. Is he going to have to pay for that ambulance?
3. They’re moving through the rounds far too quickly.
4. This evil plot of his… it’s not very good, is it?
5. So the plot thickens… into custard. And then it ends.
The original 12 Rounds was an entertaining cheese-fest led by a surprisingly competent turn from John Cena. It would have been ridiculous to play out the same events with Cena’s character a second time, so this sequel takes that plot and hands it to Randy Orton’s EMT Nick Malloy, a man who 12 months before the narrative kicks off is almost directly in the path of a car accident that results in the death of a woman. Spinning forward a year, he’s then called out on a job with a fellow EMT to assist a man who has a very badly hidden device surgically inserted into him. Once that predictably goes kaboom, Nick has to take part in 12 challenges set up by the mysterious man who has direct access to all of the CCTV cameras in the city. If Nick fails the challenges, his wife will die.
Randy Orton isn’t in the same league as John Cena, but he’s leagues ahead of Triple H and indeed many other WWE alumni who over the years have been thrust into the movie world – Hulk Hogan, we’re looking at you. Orton is at least capable of handling the dialogue, such as it is. There’s no question of him managing with the more physical moments as he bashes skulls and threatens everyone who gets in his way – quite a physical chap given that he’s just a medic.
In its favour, 12 Rounds 2 looks stylish and is well directed, the night time city setting adding a veneer of polish, but this is mostly surface level detail. If you were to look at it any closer you’d see gaps a mile wide. Beyond offering a moderately entertaining action story, there is little else to suggest that this is anything more than a cheap knock-off of the original. Suffice to say, the budget is much lower this time round, and it shows. The night time setting goes a little way in hiding the lack of money, but only to a point. The big action set pieces of 12 Rounds are reduced to an ambulance exploding and a fight in a warehouse.
It’s tarnished by bad acting and a script that is intent on rushing through the 12 rounds with even less subtlety than the first. It also suffers from a villain whose motivation for putting Malloy through those 12 rounds verge on understandable but still come across as completely ridiculous. Brian Markinson clearly decided that, despite the occasional moment of pathos his dialogue permits, he should approach everything as if he’s attempting to win the award for Angriest Acting 2013. Maybe he only saw his pay cheque after agreeing to be in the film.
Again, despite the obvious hope of WWE Films that they will carve out a niche for themselves in the market, their insistence on rehashing ideas, casting wrestlers as leads in badly scripted dramas rather than solid action stories, and using a cookie cutter template for each lead character’s story arc, it means they invariably push out material that is sub-par even by direct to DVD/Blu-Ray standards. 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded is entertaining enough in itself and Randy Orton is reasonably solid, but it deserves an RKO for not doing anything interesting with the story format.