12 Rounds 2: Reloaded (2013)

(On Cable TV, May 2014) Movie thrillers are built on contrivances almost as a matter of fact. But then there are thrillers like the 12 Rounds series, explicitly depending upon a tower of assumptions that only make sense at the movies. Can you believe in the existence of an ultra-competent vengeful psychopath who takes a year to set up an intricate series of challenges for our capable hero? Suuure. Much like the New Orleans-set 12 Rounds, this Direct-to-Video sequel (filmed in Vancouver but set in AnyBigCity, USA) is a pure genre exercise in implausible plotting, featuring a wrestler set up for an acting career and no real links with the first movie save for the similar premise. Once again, a protagonist is manipulated like a puppet through various games, all leading up to a twisted revenge scenario against imagined wrongs. There isn’t much more to the film, and director Roel Reiné, lately surprisingly good on limited budgets, here seems less interesting than usual in presenting a far more ordinary film than his previous few. Ex-wrestler Randy Orton isn’t too bad as the square-jawed hero –nearly everyone else in the cast quickly gets forgotten in average performances. The contrivances get annoying, but to its credit this sequel does something better than the original, and that’s to give the hero a sidekick so that he can interact with something more than a cell phone and booby-traps. Nevertheless, 12 Rounds 2 doesn’t take it to the next level. It remains a film that’s not too bad by the low standards of most DTV releases, but still quickly fades in memory once the end credit roll.

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