12 Rounds 2: Reloaded (2013)
“A small scale action-thriller with an extremely thin story arc.”
GRADE: D+ (2/5 stars)
by Richard Rey
12 Rounds 2: Reloaded is the perfect example of why movies like it go straight to video – they’re just not very good; it’s not that they’re terrible, it’s just that the studios realize a trip to the big screen would likely result in a squandering of their resources and time. WWE superstar Randy Orton stars as Nick, an average Joe EMT married to a very underwritten blonde (Cindy Busby). When the couple witnesses a terrible traffic accident, Nick’s skill set as a paramedic is put to the test – can he save all of the victims? A year later, a hidden terrorist (Brian Markinson) calling shots behind a set of monitors threatens to kill Nick’s wife if he can’t complete a series of tasks within a very tight timeframe. (Isn’t it astonishing, and entertainingly so, how large the balls of a cyber-bully can grow so long as he’s in his protected lair – more than likely a cave-like blanket-fort in his mother’s basement?)
Apparently this sequel, if you can even call it that (it merely steals the premise of the original 2009 flop 12 Rounds starring WWE wrestler John Cera), is supposed to be a high-octane flick, but what we really have here is a small scale action-thriller (generous) with an extremely thin story arc. To be completely honest, were it not backed by WWE Studios for its lucrative quality – a marketing scheme surrounded by Randy Orton – the film wouldn’t exist; the direction is dull with few exceptions, most of which feel out of place within the movie (a dizzying sex sequence and an even woozier flashback at a club), the cinematography is not satisfying and the writing is retarded by its constant exposition and cheesy comic-book dialogue that, again, doesn’t fit within the framework of the pic. However, since the studios insist on banking on Orton’s performance, let’s make that our primary focus.
It would be unfair to do what every other critic and viewer will likely do, that is, to pit Orton’s performance against Dwayne Johnson’s most recent turns in Pain & Gain (hilarious), Fast & Furious 6 (nothing special) and G.I. Joe Retaliation. For those interested, you need to go back to 2001 and recall The Rock (Johnson) as The Scorpion King, and then build a foundation from there –but even then you’d be comparing apples to oranges considering the difference in genre. For the sake of time, I’ll take a pass on that, thank you. But what I will say is that Orton’s turn here as a conflicted EMT was satisfying enough to fill the needs of screenwriter David Benullo’s (Around the World in 80 Days) hollow script. As to how well he was directed by Dutch filmmaker Roel Reine, my response is simply: I’m not sure.
What I am sure of is that this movie is bland and cliché, taking us round by round through different tasks that are completed fairly easily – when a character has 3 minutes to figure something out or die, how high could the stakes possibly be when we’re in the sixth? Hollywood, unlike the wrestling ring, normally requires that our hero stay alive without tapping out until action’s end (especially in action flicks), which, in this case, would be the twelfth and final round. Whether or not WWE Studios should continue to make quasi-serious movies involving their most popular muscle-heads is an important question, one that some of the major studios answer with a resounding yes. I prefer seeing a sweat-drenched Stone Cold Steve Austin opening up a can of woop-ass on another juiced-up jabroni caught unawares.
The Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD features plenty of extras including features like Randy Orton Reloaded, Locations: From Heller’s Lair to the Sugar Factory, The Action of 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded and audio commentary with Director Roel Reine and film editor Radu Ion. The look is very crisp and the quality of the picture is squeaky clean. Featuring a 1080p High Def widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, avid fans can’t go wrong with this Twentieth Century Fox pickup.
Runtime: 94 min
Genre: Action, Thriller
Director: Roel Reine
Writer: David Benullo
Starring: Randy Orton, Brian Markinson, Cindy Busby
Blu-Ray/DVD Release: June 4, 2013
Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment