In my review for the first 12 Rounds entry I found myself asking if I would’ve enjoyed the film at all if it weren’t for its New Orleans setting. There were a couple cheap, but entertaining action movie thrills here or there, but for the most part the ludicrous ways the John Cena vehicle interacted with its local setting were the highlights of the film. That movie’s sequel, 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded strips almost everything enjoyable from its predecessor in favor of an endless slow drip of hopelessly generic action movie tropes. WWE Studios’ decisions to downgrade its star pro wrestler attraction from John Cena to Randy Orton (I like him okay in the ring, but he cannot carry a film on his own the way Cena can), to swap out its theatrical-release budget for a straight-to-DVD distribution, and to disregard any specificity in setting (this could’ve been filmed in any major city, unlike the first 12 Rounds, which is intrinsically tied to New Orleans) all sink the ship here, leaving very little of interest in the way of entrainment, mindless or otherwise.
Very little has changed in the set-up of this “reloaded” version of the 12 Rounds concept. Orton plays an buff EMT instead of a buff supercop, but he still gets wrapped up in a terrorist-conceived scavenger hunt that drags him all over the city (whatever city that may be) in an effort to rescue his potential-victim wife. Where did this concept of the 12 round scavenger hunt originate? Do terrorists collab on this kind of stuff? No matter. It’s a yawn of a journey with very few bright spots, none of which touch the heights of the first film’s silliness. Even the film’s villain is a downgrade from legit-actor Aiden Gillen’s turn in the first 12 Rounds; this time we’re being threatened by a much more generic bald dude with a leather fetish who has very specific ideas about drunk driving & political corruption.
The villain, no matter how typical, is at the very least a interesting oddity in an otherwise dull proceeding. His determination to turn the film into an anti-drunk driving PSA is at the very least not something I’m used to in my action movie dreck. There’s also some interesting cheapening of the general vibe, including some sleazy, nude hotel sex that felt wildly out of place in such a tame picture & a makeshift stoner sidekick that turns out to be more than he initially seems. The only true kickass moment in the film’s entire runtime, however, is a brief gag in which Orton employs some of his pro wrestling acumen & body slams a cop onto the hood of a car. That’s a two second clip I would’ve much rather experienced as a .gif, though, whereas I got many more small moments of light amusement from the first entry in the franchise. 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded should be reserved solely for Randy Orton’s most rabid fans & generic action movie buffs who really, really hate drunk driving. Otherwise, you’re better off avoiding it entirely.