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12 Rounds Reloaded

aka 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded

D: Roel Reiné / 95m

Cast: Randy Orton, Tom Stevens, Brian Markinson, Venus Terzo, Cindy Busby, Sean Rogerson

Taking the semi-original idea of 12 Rounds (2009) and repeating it, 12 Rounds: Reloaded swaps John Cena’s cop for Randy Orton’s EMT (emergency medical technician), and Aiden Gillen’s psycho criminal for Brian Markinson’s psycho government defence contractor. This time around, Nick Malloy (Orton) fails to save the female passenger in a two-car pile-up. One year later and aggrieved husband Heller (Markinson) is out to “balance the scales of justice”. Malloy’s wife, Sarah (Busby) is kidnapped, and Malloy is forced to find clue after clues to why he and Sarah have been targeted, as he travels from one place to another in an occasionally desperate race against time. Along the way he picks up wastrel Tommy Weaver (Stevens), and the attention as they begin to realise Malloy is somehow connected to the recent disappearance of the Governor (don’t worry, it all comes together after about an hour).

This is dispiriting stuff, with a mess of a script that gives none of its cast the chance to provide anything resembling a performance. Orton gives new meaning to the phrase “as wooden as a dimestore Indian”, while Stevens and Markinson crank up the dial past eleven in their attempts to spout their dialogue convincingly. Terzo, as McKenzie, the police officer in charge of chasing Malloy and finding the Governor, fares even less well and the scene where she agrees to help Malloy is as brief and as unconvincing as it could possibly get (the part really needed Yancy Butler, but hey, them’s the breaks). The race against time aspect of the plot is played without throughout:  often Heller resets the time during rounds whenever there’s the slightest hold up or delay in Malloy’s progress.

12 Rounds Reloaded - scene

Reiné, no stranger to the world of low-budget action movies, does his best but the lack of any real peril linked to the continual absurdities of David Benullo’s script, hampers him from the start. The action sequences are poorly edited, and the scene where Malloy takes on two police officers in a park is so disjointed it makes the following sequence where he and Weaver escape in the officers’ cruiser look like the Odessa steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin. And the movie’s budget is, in fact, so low that the opening car crash happens off screen.

Ultimately, 12 Rounds: Reloaded fails because it’s a very cheap knock-off of an already fully played out idea. It lacks the conviction to put Malloy in any real danger or morally dubious circumstances, and reduces the threat to his wife by leaving her out of things until almost the end; a brief shot of Sarah asleep on a couch is used by Heller to keep Malloy in tow, but the script itself undercuts any menace – and believe me, there isn’t any – by having the police talk to her later in the movie…and she’s fine. Minor – often very minor – characters meet various grisly ends but there’s no sense of outrage or horror at what Heller’s doing, just a hope that he’ll get his comeuppance sooner rather than later so we can all go and do something more interesting. There’s only one moment in the whole movie where the audience’s expectations are undermined but by the time it happens, the viewer will have been past caring (waaaaay past).

WWE Films have produced a lot of low-budget action movies in recent years, in part as a way of further branding their “superstars” in the acting world. So far, only Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, is still the only wrestler who has met, and indeed surpassed, expectations. And while Orton was completely adequate in his cameo in That’s What I Am (2011), on this evidence his elevation from prime-time wrestling to movie stardom won’t be happening anytime soon.

Rating: 3/10 – muddled, underwhelming, dire, atrocious… just some of the words that could have been in the main review, but they all apply; let’s hope no one has the idea of making 12 Rounds: Revolutions.

Originally posted on thedullwoodexperiment website.