Review: 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded
Randy Orton plays an EMT whose wife gets kidnapped by a nefarious, unseen villain (Brian Markinson, visible to the audience for the most part) who forces Orton to play Simon Says…er…12 Rounds, a test of…doing whatever the hell the bad guy tells him to do in order to get his wife back. Meanwhile, Orton’s activities alert the attention of the cops, who think he’s a criminal and a menace. Why has this guy chosen Orton to be his guinea pig?
John Cena and WWE Studios made a fairly decent action film once. This 2013 film from veteran sequel director Roel Reine (“The Marine 2”, “Death Race 2”, “Hard Target 2”, “The Man With the Iron Fists 2”, “The Condemned 2”) is…a sequel to the other Cena action movie. “12 Rounds” featured Aiden Gillen as the bad guy, and while he has since done sterling work playing my favourite “Game of Thrones” character the late Lord Baelish (#DicksOutForLittlefinger), he was sorely miscast against the Inflatable Hulk, Mr. Cena in what was essentially a lame version of the not-so great to begin with “Die Hard With a Vengeance”. The good news here is that at least on the hero front, the sequel doesn’t follow the path “The Marine 2” did in finding an inadequate replacement WWE Superstar to fill Mr. Cena’s shoes. Instead of Ted DiBiase Jr. (a bland third generation wrestler who never got out of the undercard and left the company in fairly short order), here we get Randy Orton replacing Cena. Orton, a former stable-mate of the aforementioned DiBiase (i.e. DiBiase was one of his lackeys), is also a wrestling progeny (son of the legendary ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton), but has been one of the top stars consistently for years and has undeniable brooding charisma. He’s also carved out like a Greek God.
For those uninterested in ‘sports entertainment’, I suppose all that matters is whether Orton can act a lick or not. To that end…he’s actually alright. Being a veteran ‘heel’ notorious for hating having to play ‘babyface’, he’s on much surer ground in action mode. Orton attending to the scene of an accident as an EMT or playing romantic scenes with his girl is a bit of a stretch for him. But head-butting arseholes? That’s vintage Randy Orton right there, Michael Cole. He’s not quite the right fit for a white knight and a much better villain, but playing a good guy who has no problem dishing out the violence will do for now. He certainly has enough charisma and presence to make an OK fist of it in movies.
As for lead bad guy Brian Markinson, like Aiden Gillen he’s far from a bad actor but he suffers from the same issue: Orton needs a genuine physical threat to be pitted against, and this guy ain’t it. He’s alright, but hardly a threat. When you find out Markinson’s rationale…ugh. It’s actually more “Saw” than “Die Hard With a Vengeance” and hardly compelling. I would’ve gone a more black-hatted menacing route, to be honest.
Reine’s direction and visual aesthetic can be wildly different, sometimes the lighting and camerawork are lovely, other times he adopts cheap shaky-cam and a murky, muted palette. Here, aside from a slightly too brown/grey look the film is pretty well-lit.
Only ever-so slightly better than the first film, primarily because Orton proves a slightly more interesting protagonist than John Cena did in the original. The screenplay however is paint-by-numbers and the action isn’t good enough or plentiful enough to compensate. Ho-hum PG-13 action stuff, but give Orton a hard-R rated action vehicle and man it might just prove to be a lot of fun. Scripted by David Benullo (writer-director of the similarly mediocre horror flick “Hallowed Ground”), this is pretty far from fun and that title is awfully cumbersome.